Connections Charter School Employee Subject of Hearing
by Dave Smith
A charter school employee accused of violating state ethics laws will be the subject of a hearing to be held Tuesday in Hilo by the Hawaii State Ethics Commission.
The commission has accused William Eric Boyd, an administrative assistant for Connections New Century Public Charter School in Hilo, with having a conflict of interest for having transactions with the school using his own private company.
The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in UCB Room 127 at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
The complaint issued in October 2010 charges Boyd with 26 counts of the state ethics code dating back to 2007. Most involve accusations that Boyd represented his company in a transaction with the school.
Many of the charges involve school lunches the school purchased from Boyd Enterprises, a business operated by Boyd and his wife, Erika. The school also did business with Boyd Enterprises operating under other names including Tropical Dreams, Tropical Dreams Ice Cream and Just Fabuloso.
Six of the charges allege that Boyd took “official action” on behalf of the school with a business in which he had a financial interest by either signing as a “requestor” or “approver” of purchase orders to his wife for business in the couple’s Amway distributorship.
According to documents submitted with the charges, in some of those cases the purchase order was approved by Connections CEO John Thatcher. In at least three cases it was approved by just Boyd signing as an administrative assistant.
According to the final charge, Boyd also used his position at the school to arrange for Connections to pay $700 for a food booth at the 2008 Hawaii County Fair which was used by Boyd Enterprises operating under the business name Tropical Dreams Ice Cream. The Connections purchase order was approved by Boyd.
The commission said that according to the state ethics code, public charter schools like Connections are state agencies, making Boyd subject to the code.
“The conflicts of interests law, which is part of the State Ethics Code, is intended to prevent situations where a state employee transacts government business with himself,” the commission said in a supplemental filing in April.
Ted Hong, Boyd’s attorney, called the matter “an enormous waste of time and resources.”
Hong requested that the matter be taken to a public hearing instead of the commission’s usual process of issuing opinions and arriving at settlements.
According to Les Kondo, the commission’s executive director, this is the first contested hearing the commission has held since 1985.
Hong’s filings to the commission on behalf of Boyd denied the allegations and accused the commission of violating Boyd’s due process in several ways.
They included conducting an investigation after charges had already been filed, which Hong said meant that the commission had “predetermined” Boyd’s guilt.
Hong also said that a law passed this year that establishes charter school employees as state employees cannot be enforced retroactively.