- David A. Wilson, Executive Director
Media Contact for Agawam Teacher Kenneth Michna Pays $2,500 Civil Penalty for Violating Conflict of Interest Law
Gerry Tuoti, Public Information Officer
Boston, MA — Agawam Junior High School Band Director Kenneth Michna has admitted to violating the conflict of interest law by accepting $1,750 in payments from a nonprofit organization for helping to organize and judge a series of band competitions during his public work hours, and by giving a $2,000 payment for the school’s music department to a private, parent-run booster association. In a Disposition Agreement approved by the State Ethics Commission on October 17, Michna paid a $2,500 civil penalty and waived his right to contest the Commission’s findings.
When Michna was hired as the Agawam Junior High School Band Director, he was asked to continue the school’s prior involvement as a host for the Great East Music Festivals, a series of one-day music festivals for students in Massachusetts and surrounding states. As Band Director, Michna helped schedule the Great East Music Festivals at the junior high school for five Fridays in 2017. For each of the five festival dates, which were during the school day, Michna was paid his usual Band Director salary. For the same days, Michna was also paid by Inspire Arts and Music, the nonprofit that ran the Festivals, a total of $1,750 for his work as a site coordinator and a judge.
Inspire Arts and Music paid Agawam Junior High School a $2,000 fee for hosting the 2017 festival with a check payable to the Agawam Junior High School Music Department. Michna received the payment as Band Director and gave the check to the AJHS Band Parents Association, a private, independent, parent-run booster organization that supports the school band program and is not subject to school oversight.
Michna’s actions violated multiple sections of the conflict of interest law, which generally bars municipal employees from participating in matters affecting their own private financial interests, being paid by a private entity for a matter involving the municipality, and using their positions to obtain unwarranted private benefits.
The State Ethics Commission is charged with civilly enforcing the conflict of interest law, G.L. c. 268A. When three or more of the Commission’s five members vote to find reasonable cause to believe a public employee has violated the law, they can also authorize adjudicatory proceedings to determine whether the violation occurred. The public employee then has the opportunity to enter into a public Disposition Agreement rather than exercising his or her right to a hearing.
The Commission encourages public employees to contact the Commission’s Legal Division at 617-371-9500 for free advice if they have any questions regarding how the conflict of interest law may apply to them.