What about Ethics?

Ethics for Effective Board Members

Successful board service demands fair, honest, professional relationships
By Karen Walking Eagle

Relationships with Students and Parents
A sound code of conduct for school board members begins with a genuine commitment to strive for high-quality public education that supports the full development of all children. It involves understanding that our nation’s strengths include its freedoms; its racial, ethnic, and religious diversity; and its commitment to educational excellence and equity for all children.
You must be committed to continuing these traditions, and you must be committed to working effectively with others to do so. Get to know the students for whom you work, and initiate conversations with their parents. Make it clear that you will be an advocate for schools and for children and that all your decisions and actions will be guided by your number one objective: to do what is best for students.

Relationships with School Staff
Encourage principals, teachers, and other school staff members to share their ideas and opinions with you, and incorporate their views in your deliberations and decisions. They are on the front lines, so to speak, and are a valuable source of information about existing needs and problems. Keep abreast of current educational issues within your own school system, throughout the state, and across the nation.
In addition, learn all you can about research on school effectiveness, successful reform initiatives, and other curricular and instructional developments. In so doing, you will be better able to assess current and future educational needs and impartially evaluate and select the instructional strategies and materials that are best for your district’s students.

• Be fair and objective. Your students depend on you to do the right thing, so have an open mind. Accept and fairly evaluate new concepts, really listen to what people have to say, and be willing to consider alternative solutions to problems.
Know the difference between personal influence and factual persuasion. Be willing to listen to constructive criticism. At all times, support and protect the civil and human rights of all members of the school community. Maintain a sense of perspective and a sense of humor.

The NSBA Board of Directors endorses the following code for local school board members:
As a member of my local board of education, I will strive to improve public education, and to that end I will:

• Attend all regularly scheduled board meetings insofar as possible, and become informed concerning the issues to be considered at those meetings;
• Recognize that I should endeavor to make policy decisions only after full discussion at publicly held board meetings;
• Render all decisions based on the available facts and my independent judgment, and refuse to surrender that judgment to individuals or special interest groups;
• Encourage the free expression of opinion by all board members, and seek systematic communications between the board and students, staff, and all elements of the community;
• Work with other board members to establish effective board policies and to delegate authority for the administration of the schools to the superintendent;
• Communicate to other board members and the superintendent expression of public reaction to board policies and school programs;
• Inform myself about current educational issues by individual study and through participation in programs providing needed information, such as those sponsored by my state and national school boards association;
• Support the employment of those persons best qualified to serve as school staff, and insist on a regular and impartial evaluation of all staff;
• Avoid being placed in a position of conflict of interest;
• Take no private action that will compromise the board or administration, and respect the confidentiality of information that is privileged under applicable law; and
• Remember always that my first and greatest concern must be the educational welfare of the students attending the public schools.

Approved by the NSBA Board of Directors April19, 1979; reviewed and approved by the board Feb. 2, 1996; reviewed and approved by the board Nov. 10, 1999.


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.