Each Trustee strives to meet the following standards:
(a) Trustees attend as many regularly scheduled Board Meetings as possible and know the issues to be considered at those meetings.
(b) Trustees work together to adopt effective Board policies.
(c) Trustees recognize that policy should be adopted only after full discussion at publicly held Board meetings.
(d) Trustees base decisions on available facts and independent judgment and refuse to surrender that judgment to individuals or special interest groups.
(e) Trustees encourage free expression of opinion by all Trustees and encourage communication between the Board and students, staff, and all community stakeholders.
(f) Trustees relay to each other and the Chancellor public reaction to Board policies and College programs.
(g) Trustees learn current educational issues through individual study and through participation in informational programs. Such programs include those sponsored by the American Association of Community Colleges and the Association of Community College Trustees.
(h) Trustees support employing the best qualified people as College employees and insist on regular, impartial staff evaluations.
(i) Trustees avoid conflicts of interest and do not use their offices for personal or partisan gain.
(j) Trustees take no private action that will compromise the Board or administration and keep privileged information confidential.
(k) Trustees’ first and greatest concern is College students’ educational welfare.
(a)Abuse of Office occurs when a Trustee, with intent to obtain a benefit or with intent to harm another, intentionally or knowingly violates a Law Relating to the Office or misuses anything of value, belonging to the College, that has come into the Trustee’s custody by virtue of his or her office.
(b) Bribery occurs when a Public Servant intentionally or knowingly offers, confers, agrees to confer, solicits, accepts, or agrees to accept a benefit as (1) consideration for the public servant’s decision, opinion, recommendation, vote, or other exercise of official discretion; (2) consideration for a violation of a duty imposed on the public servant by law; or (3) that is a political contribution as defined by Title 15, Election Code, or an expenditure made and reported as a lobbying expense in accordance with Chapter 305, Government Code, if the benefit was offered, conferred, solicited, accepted, or agreed to pursuant to an express agreement to take or withhold a specific exercise of official discretion, if such exercise of official discretion would not have been taken or withheld but for the benefit.
(c) Benefit means anything reasonably regarded as pecuniary gain or pecuniary advantage to any person in whose welfare the Trustee has a direct and substantial interest.
(d) Close Relative means an individual related by blood (consanguinity) within the third degree, or by marriage (affinity) within the second degree.
(e) Incompatibility of Office occurs when a Trustee occupies two legally incompatible offices. Offices are legally incompatible when the faithful and independent exercise of one would necessarily interfere with the faithful and independent exercise of the other. A person may not serve in one branch of government while exercising any powers properly attached to either of the other branches of government.
(f) Law Relating to the Office means a law that specifically applies to a person acting in the capacity of a Public Servant and that directly or indirectly imposes a duty on the public servant or governs the conduct of the Public Servant.
(g) Prohibited Bank Relations occur when a Trustee who is a stock holder, officer, director, or employee of a bank that has bid to become a depository for the College votes on the awarding of a depository contract to that bank. If a Trustee has a substantial interest in a bank with which the College is considering entering into a loan or other transaction besides a depository contract, the Trustee must comply with the affidavit of abstention requirements outlined in this policy.
(h) Public Servant means a person elected, selected, appointed, employed, or otherwise designated as an officer, employee, or agent of government; or a candidate for nomination or election to public office.
In Section I.G. only:
(i) Business entity means a sole proprietorship, partnership, firm, corporation, holding company, joint-stock company, receivership, trust or any other entity recognized by law.
(j) Officer means a Trustee, the Chancellor, or any College agent or employee who exercises discretion in the planning, recommending, selecting, or contracting of a vendor.
(k) Substantial interest in a business entity means (1) a person owns at least 10% of the voting stock or shares of the business entity; (2) a person owns either 10% or $15,000 of the business entity’s fair market value; (3) a person received in excess of 10% of his or her gross income over the previous year from the business entity. Substantial interest in real property means a person has equitable or legal ownership in the property has a fair market value of $2,500 or more.
I.G.1.03. Ethical Standards
Trustees maintain the highest ethical standards and abide by Board ethics and conflict-of-interest policies. Trustees serve in a fiduciary capacity and conduct all matters with this standard in mind. A Trustee is loyal to the entire College rather than to any part or constituency within the College or community. Trustees do not request or demand action that violates any law, Board Policy, or Chancellor’s Procedure. As fiduciaries, and subject to Texas law on the use or misuse of official College information, Trustees maintain strict confidentiality of information (1) presented and discussed during any Closed Board Meeting or during any Board Committee Meeting; (2) proprietary to the College; or (3) about the College not within the public domain. Any Trustee’s disclosure or misuse of this information may be considered Official Misconduct or Abuse of Office, subjecting the Trustee to removal from office and criminal prosecution.
I.G.1.04. Conflict-of-Interest Abstention
The College may contract with a business entity in which a Trustee has a substantial interest only if the Trustee follows the disclosure and abstention procedure set out in this section.
If a Trustee or a Trustee’s relative in the first degree by either affinity or consanguinity has a substantial interest in a business entity or in real property, then before a vote or decision on any matter involving the business entity or the real property, the Trustee shall file an affidavit with the Board Secretary stating the nature and extent of the interest and shall abstain from further participation in the matter if (1) in the case of a substantial interest in a business entity, the action on the matter will have a special economic effect on the business entity distinguishable from the effect on the public; or (2) in the case of a substantial interest in real property, it is reasonably foreseeable that an action on the matter will have a special economic effect on the property’s value, distinguishable from its effect on the public.
The Board shall take a separate vote on any budget item specifically dedicated to a contract with a business entity in which a Trustee has a substantial interest. The affected Trustee shall not participate in that separate vote, but may vote on a final budget if the Trustee filed the affidavit and the matter in which he or she is concerned has been resolved. Despite the foregoing, a Trustee may vote if a majority of all Trustees are required to file affidavits of similar interests on the official action.
I.G.1.05. Disclosure Statements
Officers shall file disclosure statements concerning a College vendor or potential vendor as required by Chapter 176, Local Government Code. Trustees or candidates for Trustee positions with a legal or equitable interest in any property to be acquired with public funds shall file disclosure statements required by Chapter 553, Government Code. The College shall provide access on the College’s website to all filed disclosure statements and questionnaires. These disclosure statements are separate from and may be required in addition to or instead of the substantial interest affidavit referenced above. Special requirements exist when federal funds are involved.
I.G.1.06. Prohibited Actions
Trustees are Public Servants of the College and the State of Texas. The following practices are strictly prohibited: Bribery, Abuse of Office, Prohibited Bank Relations, and Incompatibility of Office. Furthermore, a Trustee may not act as surety (1) for a business entity with a contract, work, or business with the College; or (2) on any official bond required of any College officer.
Trustees exercise discretion for contracts, purchases, payments, claims, and other pecuniary transactions involving the College. Trustees may not solicit, accept, or agree to accept any benefit from a person the Trustee knows is interested in or likely to become interested in any such College transactions. A Trustee who receives an unsolicited benefit that he or she is prohibited from accepting may donate the benefit to the Lone Star College System Foundation.
The College and Board do not employ Trustees’ Close Relatives, nor do they hire Trustees’ Close Relatives as independent contractors for personal services. The College may not employ a former Trustee until the first anniversary of the date the Trustee’s membership on the Board ends.
LSCS Policy Manual Section adopted by the Board of Trustees on December 1, 2016
I.G.1.07. Trustee Misconduct
The Board has an interest in addressing Trustee Ethical Misconduct. Trustees have a duty to report Ethical Misconduct. The Board may investigate Ethical Misconduct reports and issue sanctions in accordance with the law. Ethical Misconduct means violating (1) Section I.G.1.03. Ethical Standards, (2) I.G.1.04. Conflict-of-Interest Abstention, (3) I.G.1.05. Disclosure Statements, (4) I.G.1.06. Prohibited Actions, or (5) engaging in Official Misconduct (defined in Section I.G).
Any person or Trustee may file a written Ethical Misconduct report with the Board Chair or the Board Vice-Chair if the report regards the Board Chair. The report recipient must advise the Board that an Ethical Misconduct report was received. The recipient may request an investigation of the Ethical Misconduct report upon a majority vote of the Board. An Independent Third Party will conduct the investigation. Independent Third Party in this section means any person appointed by the Board to conduct this investigation. The Independent Third Party will prepare investigative findings for the Board’s review.
The Board may find that Ethical Misconduct has occurred by majority vote. Upon such finding, the Board may sanction the Trustee found to have engaged in Ethical Misconduct. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, (1) removing the trustee from serving in any committee, (2) limiting travel and fee reimbursement, (3) censuring the Trustee, or (4) any other sanction or action allowed by law.
LSCS Policy Manual Section adopted by the Board of Trustees on February 1, 2018