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by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Metro Schools Director Jesse Register is proposing a new ethics policy. It comes just weeks after the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed an ethics complaint against Dr. Register and the Board for not disclosing information like how trips and other outings were paid for. While the complaint was ultimately dropped it created concern in the community that Metro leaders hope this policy will address.
"Who on earth is providing gifts," SEIU Local 205 President Doug Collier asked. "Who is providing these trips to China, these trips to Los Angeles and trips to Toronto, Canada? Who is paying for all of this?"
Yet again, the SEIU is demanding answers from Metro School leaders. It's another indication of a relationship that's steadily deteriorated over the past few years.
"We just didn't know what the school board had to hide or what Dr. Register had to hide," Collier added.
Dr. Register says he nor the district has anything to hide, which is why he's providing the union's lawyers copies of his receipts and reimbursements over the past two years. It's one of a few ways the SEIU has questioned how the district is spending taxpayer dollars. Register says the new policy is not in response to the complaint, but a means to address the concern raised in the community.
"It's a reaction to the response that we've gotten," he said. "We don't want people to have any questions about where we are in terms of our transparency and our business practice."
The new policy now requires more than 20 department heads to file financial disclosures- a sworn document that ensures employees do not have any relationships that could pose a conflict of interest. When implemented the policy will be retroactive-- meaning those affected will be responsible for disclosing anything that happened from the beginning of the year
"We feel very good about our practices," Register added. "We feel like we have good safeguards in place, good ethics in place but it's very important to us that the community have confidence in us."
NewsChannel 5 has requested the travel expense documents from Dr. Register. The changes to the ethics policy does not require a board vote. Instead Register will consider feedback from the board before its implemented. The public is also welcome to comment.