For Immediate Release - February 24, 2010

Former Lawrence School Committee Member Priscilla Baez Fined $2,000 for Violating the Conflict of Interest Law

Voted to Approve the Creation of a School Department Position Knowing Her Brother Would Be Appointed to the Position

The State Ethics Commission approved a Disposition Agreement ("Agreement") in which former Lawrence School Committee member Priscilla Baez ("Baez") admitted to violating G.L. c. 268A, the conflict of interest law. Pursuant to the Agreement, Baez paid a $2,000 civil penalty.

According to the Agreement, in August and September 2008, Baez, in her capacity as a School Committee member, voted to approve a request by the school superintendent to create a Special Assistant to the Superintendent ("Special Assistant") position and eliminate the position of Urban Affairs Liaison, a position held by Baez's brother. She voted on two occasions to approve the creation of the Special Assistant position and, at the time of such votes, Baez knew that the superintendent planned to appoint her brother to the new position, and that the new position would include a pay increase. Baez's brother was subsequently appointed to the Special Assistant position, and his salary increased from $54,105 to $69,104.

Section 19 of the conflict of interest law prohibits a municipal employee from participating as such in any matters in which, to her knowledge, her immediate family member has a financial interest. As stated in the Agreement, by voting to create the Special Assistant position, while knowing that her brother would be appointed to the new position, a position in which he had a financial interest, Baez violated section 19.

"The conflict of interest law prohibits public employees from participating in hiring or other personnel matters that affect the financial interests of their immediate family members," stated Executive Director Karen L. Nober. "The prohibition against nepotism is a basic principle of the conflict of interest law."

Disposition Agreement