School ethics code is 10 months late report and approval expected in July

June 18, 1996|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

Ten months after promising to develop an ethics code, Baltimore County school officials have yet to establish standards of conduct to prevent conflicts of interest between school employees and contractors.

Officials said yesterday that Superintendent Anthony G. Marchione's original September deadline -- triggered by a controversial $5 million, no-bid technology contract -- was impossible to meet, but a proposal will be presented to the school board July 2.

"It was time well spent," said board member Robert F. Dashiell, who predicted the code would be approved at that meeting.

Marchione appointed a committee to develop an ethics code in the wake of revelations that an Arizona company was negotiating for the contract while financing trips to its headquarters for more than 70 teachers and school administrators, including former Superintendent Stuart Berger.

The company, Educational Management Group Inc., and Berger defended the trips, which included air fare and stays in a four-star hotel. They said the trips were designed to familiarize school employees with EMG's products and services, such as online and satellite-based instructional programs.

Marchione said he never took an EMG-sponsored trip. And in one of his first actions as head of county schools, he canceled negotiations for the EMG contract.

He also asked for an ethics policy that would cover the district's 10,980 employees, including 650 administrators.

The committee recommendations are being reviewed by county attorneys; district officials would not reveal the report's contents.

TC George Poff, assistant to the superintendent for government and business relations, said that although Marchione asked for a final committee report by the end of September, the report was delayed for 10 months because of scheduling conflicts, the legal complexity of the issues, and the many school days canceled by snow.

Pub Date: 6/18/96

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