The bill creates the school board ethics commission (commission) as a type 1 commission within the department of education.
The commission consists of 5 members appointed by the general assembly, the governor, and the state board of education. The bill includes requirements relating to commission membership.
Any person may file a complaint alleging that a member of the governing board of a school district, district charter school, institute charter school, or board of cooperative services that operates a school (board member), has violated a state statute, code, standard, or rule within the commission's jurisdiction.
The commission may hear complaints relating to alleged violations by board members of:
- The code of ethics for school board members created in the bill;
- The conduct of school board meetings;
- School board bylaws relating to the conduct of board members;
- Statutes relating to ethics in government;
- Statutes relating to open meetings;
- The "Colorado Open Records Act"; and
- Any other provisions of state law that relate to ethical codes, standards, or rules that are applicable to board members.
The bill authorizes the commission to take all actions necessary to carry out its duties, including, among others, receiving, reviewing, and investigating complaints; issuing findings of fact and conclusions of law; and imposing sanctions if violations are found. The commission shall promulgate rules relating to its duties.
The bill includes procedures relating to complaints filed with the commission. Once filed, the commission determines whether there is probable cause to sustain the complaint. The complaint and response are confidential until probable cause has been determined. If there is probable cause, the commission refers the matter to an administrative law judge for hearing and issuance of findings of fact. The commission then makes written findings of fact and conclusions of law. If a violation is found, the commission shall determine the sanction, which may include civil penalties or fines, equitable relief, censure, and the award of attorney's fees. Complainants may appeal decisions to the district court.
The commission may dismiss frivolous complaints and impose a fine of not more than $500.
The bill establishes a code of ethics for school board members.