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Supremes: State ethics code not for school boards



March 19, 2012 — Georgia’s Code of Ethics does not apply to members of local school boards, the Supreme Court of Georgia said today in a unanimous decision.

The high court ruled that former Gov. Sonny Perdue had no authority in August 2010 to remove three members of the Warren County Board of Education for alleged misconduct. One member’s term has since expired, but the other two may get their jobs back.

Perdue ousted Clara Roberts, Cecil Brown and Charles Culver after an administrative law judge found that Roberts and Brown had made discriminatory remarks against applicants for a teaching job. All three also refused to sign the board’s ethics code.

Those actions violated the state’s Code of Ethics and subjected them to removal from office, the governor said in an executive order.

Not so fast, the court ruled today. The code applies to “boards, commissions and authorities created by general statute,” the justices said, but not school boards, which are created by the Georgia Constitution.

“While Appellees argue that administrative removal of members of constitutionally-created boards, commissions, and authorities is a wise policy that is consistent with our Constitution, the wisdom of such a policy is not the issue,” the court ruled. “The General Assembly has simply not pursued such an avenue.”





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