Board Member Conduct
As elected officials board of education (board) members are expected to behave in a reasonable manner. They are expected to put the best interests of the public ahead of their own person concerns. They are expected to act as role models for employees and students. While there are specific legal ramifications of inappropriate behaviour board members should also remember the moral and ethical considerations.
The information provided should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have questions about a specific fact situation please contact your legal counsel.
- The Saskatchewan School Boards Association Code of Ethics (click here for French) is not a legally binding document but it has been developed by board members and would likely be regarded by the courts as the standard which board members would be expected to meet.
- There are certain portions of the Code of Ethics that overlap with legal requirements. For example The Local Authority Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (LAFOIP) applies to boards. LAFOIP requires that any personal information obtained by a board must be kept confidential. This would include virtually all information about individual students or staff members. Personal information is defined in the LAFOIP to include any information about the education of a person and also covers details of most employment issues.Board members are covered by LAFOIP in the same way as employees. A board member who speaks in public about personal issues of an employee or student is violating the LAFOIP and can found guilty of an offence and fined. In addition the person whose information is discussed may have a cause of action against the board member, and against the board itself.If the information presented is untrue the board member may be open to a lawsuit for defamation.In addition, other types of confidential information are exempt from disclosure under LAFOIP. If disclosure of this type of information is made by individual board members they could be personally liable for any damage to the board or other persons. To whom the information relates. Types of information that are exempt from disclosure under LAFOIP include:
- advice from solicitors and other legal documents;
- confidential information involving third parties;
- information that might interfere with an investigation;
- drafts of resolutions or bylaws;
- advice, recommendations, analysis, options etc. developed for the board; and
- proposed plans or positions for negotiations.
- Board members are also covered by The Education Act, 1995. Section 367 provides that any person who “wilfully disturbs, interrupts or disquiets the proceedings of any school meeting” is guilty of an offence and subject to a fine. This section would apply to board members just as it would to any member of the public. There are accepted ways of conducting meeting and while a certain amount of discussion and debate is necessary any board member who goes beyond what is reasonable could well be in violation of section 367.If anyone at a meeting, including a board member, is acting to disturb or interrupt a meeting, they should first be warned. If the behaviour persists they should be asked to leave. If they do not leave and they continue to interrupt and disturb the meeting, then the police can be called.In addition to the provisions of section 367 the board as owner of the property has the right to ask for police assistance in removing people from the premises who no longer have permission to be there. This is, of course, a drastic measure and one that should be used only as a last resort.