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SEIU Files Ethics Complaints Against MNPS Director and School Board Members

March 23, 2012

As reported by The Tennessean and other media outlets, SEIU Local 205 has filed ethics complaints against MNPS Director Jesse Register and the members of the Metro Board of Education over these officials’ failure to file financial disclosure forms under the Metro Ethics Code.

“Metro Nashville Public Schools officials make decisions every day that affect the lives of thousands of families,” explained Doug Collier, President of SEIU Local 205. “The public has a right to know that critical decisions that impact our community’s school system are made in an atmosphere that is free of any conflicts of interest.”

Local 205 filed its complaints under the provisions of the Metro Ethics Code, which requires that all elected officials and executive officers of most Metro agencies, boards, and commissions file disclosure reports each year describing the officials’ sources of income as well as gifts and other things of value received from third parties.

The Union’s complaint against Dr. Register points out that, in his last two annual disclosure reports, Register has refused to complete the section of the form that requires disclosure of “anything of value” received from third parties.

In addition, Local 205 has confirmed that the members of the Board of Education have failed to file any disclosure reports with the Metro Clerk, even though the Ethics Code explicitly requires the reports must be filed by “the holders of all elected offices authorized or created by the Metropolitan Charter.”

“We were astonished to learn that Dr. Register and the members of the Board of Education have failed to file the disclosure reports that every member of Metro Council and other executive officials of Metro Government file every year,” stated Collier. “The Metro Ethics Code does not make any exceptions for MNPS officials or school board members.”

In a March 18 letter to The Tennessean, Register claimed that the current MNPS ethics policy does not require financial disclosure reports, “but we are working on one now that will do so.” Register’s position ignores the fact that the existing Metro Code already applies to MNPS officials and the Board of Education.

“Dr. Register needs to learn that he and other MNPS officials are not above the law,” Collier observed. “The existing Metro Ethics Code is quite clear. We are simply asking that the leaders of Nashville’s public school system should immediately disclose the same information required of other Metro public officials.”

In accordance with the Ethics Code, the Union filed the complaint against Dr. Register with the Board of Education, while the complaint against Board members was filed with the Metro Board of Ethical Conduct. Copies of both complaints are available upon request.