The biennial budget bill (Am. Sub. House Bill 59), signed by Governor Kasich on June 30, contains an amendment to the Revised Code which allows family members of superintendents to be employed as teachers upon the recommendation of a person other than the superintendent. The amendment modifies Section 3319.07 of the Ohio Revised Code and reads as follows (new language underlined):

“In all school districts and in service centers, no teacher shall be employed unless such person is nominated by the superintendent of such district or center, or by another individual designated by the board in the event that the superintendent's nomination would be a violation of section 2921.42 of the Revised Code.”

This amendment addresses the not-uncommon problem of a board of education that wishes to employ the spouse or the adult son or daughter of a sitting superintendent by allowing the superintendent to “sidestep” the recommendation he or she would otherwise be required to provide on all new teacher hires. Making such a recommendation has been interpreted by the Ohio Ethics Commission as a violation of the Ohio Ethics Laws (in particular, ORC 2921.42). In such instances, another person, such as an assistant superintendent or building principal, may be specifically authorized to make the hiring recommendation.

Some other important points to consider in relation to this amendment:

  • The effective date of the amendment is September 29, 2013; therefore, the procedure described above is not available at the present time.
  • The amendment relates only to the act of making a recommendation. Superintendents must still avoid using their authority or influence in any other way to cause the hiring of the family member.
  • The amendment does not directly address the hiring of family members as administrators, an issue that will require further interpretation.*

*Note that the definition of “teacher” found in ORC 3319.09(A), which includes administrators, is not applicable to ORC 3319.07.