June 16, 1994
Digest: A part-time justice may accept an appointment to the board of trustees of a publicly funded school district for handicapped children.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(b)(h)
A part-time justice asks whether it is permissible to accept an appointment as a member of the board of trustees of a school district for handicapped children. The school district was created by the State to serve the special educational needs of eligible children. Although the school is public, its trustees are elected by a not-for-profit corporation associated with the school district. The justice states that there is no fund raising involved in this enterprise.
Rule 100.5(b) of the Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge allows judges to serve inter alia, as trustees of educational organizations, subject to certain appropriate limitations. Furthermore Rule 100.5(h) allows a part-time judge to accept private or public employment. Thus, there is no reason to suggest that the sort of volunteer activity involved in this inquiry should be forbidden.
This opinion differs from the Committee's previous findings in Opinions 88-142 Vol. 111, 89-157/90-7, and 90-79, Vol. V because in those instances the judges were required to stand for a public, political election in order to gain a seat on those school boards. In the instant situation, there is no public election, but rather a private election process, and there is no annual public referendum on the special school district's budget.
Therefore, the Committee believes that service by a part-time justice as a trustee of the board of a quasi-public, special school district is permissible.