State Supreme Court reverses ethics ruling against charter school employee

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The state Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the state Ethic’s Commission’s ruling that a Connections New Century Public Charter School employee violated the state’s conflict-of-interest law for purchases made in 2006 and 2007.

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The state Supreme Court on Tuesday reversed the state Ethic’s Commission’s ruling that a Connections New Century Public Charter School employee violated the state’s conflict-of-interest law for purchases made in 2006 and 2007.

The commission in February 2013 slapped William Eric Boyd, an administrative assistant at the Hilo charter school, with a $10,000 fine — $500 each for 20 counts of violating the ethics code, the maximum fine allowed.

The commission ruled Boyd ran afoul of the state’s conflict-of-interest law when he filled out and approved multiple purchase orders for school supplies from businesses owned by him and his wife, Erika Boyd, including $6,000 in purchases from the couple’s Amway distributorship for books, classroom supplies, custodial supplies, cleaning supplies, digital camcorders, a fax/copier and ink.

The commission also ruled against Boyd for authorizing purchases of more than $5,000 in school lunches from Boyd Enterprises, which does businesses as Tropical Dreams, Tropical Dreams Ice Cream and Just Fabuloso.

Boyd appealed the ruling and the case eventually ended up in the state’s high court.

In a 29-page ruling, Associate Justice Richard W. Pollock wrote the law gave charter schools “discretion, autonomy and independence over matters relating to the required establishment of standards of conduct for charter school employees. These standards of conduct included conflict of interest standards. … Thus, we conclude that the commission lacked authority to adjudicate proceedings against Boyd for alleged violations … that occurred in 2006 and 2007.”

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Ted Hong, Boyd’s attorney, said in a statement the commission should have listened to their argument about jurisdiction from the beginning “instead of ruining (Boyd’s) life and dragging his name through the mud for the past six years.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.