Required Financial Disclosure Filing for Board Members

Required Financial Disclosure Filing for Board Members

By Stephanie Mather, Director of Legal Information and Staff Attorney

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Effective January 1, 2015, The Technology Center District and Independent School District Campaign Finance and Financial Disclosure Act went into effect. The act was passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in 2014 and changed the laws and requirements for school board candidates and school board member reporting. These laws are enforced by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. The law now requires School Board members to make the same type of regular financial disclosures that have been made by Oklahoma State elected officials and officers for many years.

The Financial Disclosure filing requirement applies to all members of boards of education of Technology Center School Districts and Independent School Districts in the State of Oklahoma. It does not apply to board members of elementary school districts in the State of Oklahoma. The Financial Disclosure Statement requires the filer to indicate any entity in which the filer or his or her spouse or dependents has a “material financial interest.” What is considered a “material financial interest” is defined on the attached form.

The purpose of this disclosure is to assist in determining possible conflicts of interest between a board member’s public duties and his or her private economic interests. An initial Financial Disclosure Statement must be filed within thirty (30) days of assuming office for a full or partial term covering the prior calendar year if a Financial Disclosure Statement covering the prior year has not already been filed.

In addition, all elected school district board members are required to file a statement of Financial Disclosure with the school district clerk annually. These must ordinarily be filed no later than May 15 of each calendar year for the preceding calendar year. In other words, the Financial Disclosure filed by May 15, 2017, would cover financial interests during the 2016 calendar year. One of the reasons the Ethics Commission chose May 15 is because it follows the April 15 deadline to file tax returns, and information could be taken from the tax return as to entities in which the filer had a material financial interest.

Again, they are filed with the school district clerk. They are NOT filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Once filed, these documents do become subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act, and are open records Copies must be furnished to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission upon request.

These documents must be retained by the school district for at least four years and may be published on the school district website. We advise all school board members to retain copies of these documents for at least four years. We also strongly recommend that you have the school district clerk note on your copy of the filings the date they were filed with the clerk.

The original Financial Disclosure form that was created by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to be filed by school board members was identical to the form filed by state officers. As such, it lacked a certain amount of pertinence to school board members. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission has now modified the form for school board members and has taken out the conflict of interest questions that do not apply to school board positions.

This new form should be used at this time and for all future filings. Download a copy of the form or find it at the Oklahoma Ethics Commission website.

Please be sure to file your Financial Disclosure Statement with your school district clerk before the May 15, 2017 deadline.