North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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February 1, 1978

Subject:

Public Officers and Employees; Boards of Education; Conflict of Interest, G.S. 14-234(c)

Requested By:

George T. Rogister, Jr. Attorney for Wake County Board of Education

Question:

Do the provisions of G.S. 14-234(c) apply to the members, officers or employees of a local board of education?

Conclusion:

No.

The 1977 General Assembly amended G.S. 14-234 by adding subsection (c) which reads, "No director, board member, commissioner, or employee of any State department, agency, or institution shall directly or indirectly enter into or otherwise participate in any business transaction involving public funds with any firm, corporation, partnership, person or association which at any time during the preceding two year period employed or otherwise had a financial association with such director, board member, commissioner or employee."

In the case of Turner v. Gastonia City Board of Education, 250 N.C. 456, it was held that a person employed by a city board of education to do maintenance work on the city school grounds is not an employee of the State. The Court held that county and city boards of education perform local functions and are local units of government and are not an agency of the State within the scope of the Tort Claims Act.

The Act under consideration in Turner involved claims against the State Board of Education, State Highway Commission and all other departments, institutions and agencies of the State.

G.S. 14-234(c) speaks to directors, board members, commissioners or employees of any State department, agency or institution. We think it clear, therefore, that the Act is referring only to State Departments, agencies or institutions and not local agencies of local government. It is noted that Section (d) of G.S. 14-234 states that the provisions of subsection (c) shall not apply to transactions meeting the requirements of Article 3 of the Chapter 143 of the General Statutes or any other transactions specifically authorized by the Advisory Budget Commission.

Although the title of a statute is not a part of the Act per se, the title may be considered when the meaning of the statute may be doubtful. It is noted that the title to Chapter 761, Session Laws of 1977, which inserted the amendments to G.S. 14-234, reads, "An act to amend G.S. 14-234 to prohibit State officials and employees from participating in any business transaction involving public funds with a former employer or business associate."

Thus, we conclude that G.S. 14-234(c) is applicable only to directors, board members, commissioners or employees of State departments, agencies or institutions and not to local county and city boards of education.

Rufus L. Edmisten Attorney General

James F. Bullock Senior Deputy Attorney General