Attorney Explains Missouri Laws on Nepotism Within School Districts

The Fox School Board's recent hire of its president's relative had some questioning whether nepotism was involved. Patch turned to the Missouri Department of Education for answers.

The recent hire of Kelly Nash as the Fox School District's food service director had many in the community crying foul. That's because she's the daughter-in-law of school board president Linda Nash.

In a previous interview, Todd Scott, a spokesperson with the district's human resources department, told Patch the district does not have any policies regarding nepotism.

Mark Van Zandt, general counsel for the Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, explained the Missouri Constitution spells out specific laws regarding nepotism within school districts. 

On the department's website, the state's law on nepotism reads "Any public officer or employee in this state who by virtue of his office or employment names or appoints to public office or employment any relative within the fourth degree, by consanguinity or affinity, shall thereby forfeit his office or employment." 

Van Zandt said that when the potential candidate is a relative of a board member, state law bans that board member from voting on the decision.

Scott told the Arnold-Imperial Leader on Dec. 6 that the board voted 5-0 to hire Kelly Nash for the position in a Nov. 20 closed session. In the Dec. 6 article, Superintendent Dianne Critchlow said Nash did not vote on the decision and in fact, left the room when the decision was being discussed.

Van Zandt said the biggest factor that comes into play regarding nepotism within school districts is the "appointing authority," which is usually a district's board of education.

"It's the most misunderstood issue that comes up when a spouse of a superintendent is hired for a position or when a building principal's family member is hired as a teacher for the school," he said. "The appointing authority is the school board, not the superintendent or the principal."

In an earlier interview, Scott told Patch that the district, which is one of Jefferson County's largest employers, employs many relatives of employees. "We're proud of the fact that we hire local people," he said. 

Van Zandt added that school districts may choose to enforce additional policies relating to nepotism, such as banning board members who have relatives under consideration for employment from even discussing the matter.

See previous stories:

  • Taxpayers Irked Over Hire of School Board President's Relative
  • Fox School Board President's Relative Hired as Food Service Director




LCW December 18, 2012 at 03:54 PM
I wish Linda Nash much luck getting re elected. I'm a voter and will remember this and not for her!!!!!
Opinionated December 20, 2012 at 03:45 AM
While such hiring practices may not be a technical violation of the nepotism provisions in the Missouri constitution, instead it is what you call the "you vote my relative and I will vote your relative" type of institutional corruption that yields the same result as the nepotism law was designed to prevent. What are the chances that the most qualified applicant (according to district spokespersons) just happen to be a relative of a school board member or the superintendent - over and over again? Impossible odds. Now it is up to voters to solve the problem by electing new school board members.
Jason B February 12, 2013 at 03:42 AM
How many relatives of those who actually do the hiring have been hired/appointed by said persons? Has the district's superintendent, assistant superintendent, etc., hired his or her own relations? If so, are resignations forthcoming per the guidelines stated in this article? Since this is a public district, funded by the public, it is the public's interest what practices and guidelines are in place. If you look at the candidates when they run of School Board, there are interview questions in the Leader asking them how many relatives work in the district. I believe I saw in the Leader once where Nash answered that she is related to about a dozen or so district employees. I believe it is similar for the current administrators and Board members. Has anyone checked with the state or federal government to see what qualifications are necessary for different positions?


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