SCHOOL DISTRICTS ‑- MAY A NONHIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT REIMBURSE ONE OF ITS DIRECTORS THE TRANSPORTATION EXPENSES FOR HIS CHILD IN ATTENDING HIGH SCHOOL IN ADJOINING HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT
A nonhigh school district may reimburse one of its directors for the expense of transportation of the director's child to attend high school in an adjoining high school district, pursuant to the authorization of the transportation commission, as provided in RCW 28.24.030.
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June 5, 1952
Honorable Fred G. Campbell
Davenport, Washington Cite as: AGO 51-53 No. 320
We hereby acknowledge receipt of your letter of May 15, 1952, in which you request an opinion on the following matter, and I quote from your letter:
"May a non-high [[nonhigh]]school district legally pay one of its directors for the transportation of the director's child in attending high school in an adjoining high school district?"
Our conclusion may be summarized as follows:
A nonhigh school district may reimburse one of its directors for the expense of transportation of the director's child to attend high school in an adjoining high school district, pursuant to the authorization of the transportation commission as provided in RCW 28.24.030.
Rem. Rev. Stat., § 4783 provides:
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"* * * It shall be unlawful for any director to have any pecuniary interest, either directly or indirectly in the purchase of school sites or in the erection of schoolhouses, or in the warming, ventilating, furnishing, repairing or insuring of the same, or to be in any manner interested in or connected with the furnishing of supplies for the maintenance of schools, or to receive or accept any compensation or reward for services rendered as director or be employed for hire by said district or by any person having a contract with said district: * * *"
Although Rem. Rev. Stat., § 4783, supra, does not specifically mention a contract for the payment to a director of transportation expense for his children, it was held inDirectors of School District No. 302 v. Libby, 135 Wash. 233, 237 Pac. 505, that such a contract is within the prohibition of Rem. Rev. Stat., § 4783,supra.
InSchool District v. Libby, supra, the defendant Libby hired G & W to come and live at his home and transport the Libby children to and from school with the Libby team and conveyance, and to do chores about the farm at other times. In consideration of these services G and subsequently W were to receive $30.00 per month, and the balance, to be received from a contract between the school district and G and subsequently W, was to belong to the defendant Libby. Defendant Libby contended that contracts were authorized under Rem. Rev. Stat., § 4776 (11), which provides:
"Every board of directors, unless otherwise specially provided by law, shall have power and it shall be its duty:
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"Eleventh: To provide and pay for transportation of children to and from school whether such children live within or without the district when in their judgment the best interests of their district will be subserved thereby, * * *"
The court held that the contracts were unlawful and that defendants Libby and G and W were compelled to refund the money received under the contracts. School District v. Libby, supra, is still the law of this state within the confines of this particular factual situation.
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Since the rendition of the decision in the case of School District v. Libby, supra, the legislature has enacted § 12, chapter 141, Laws of 1945, which are to be found in the Code at RCW 28.24.010, 28.24.020 and 28.24.030.
RCW 28.24.010 provides:
"Transportation routes shall be established or approved by a commission to consist of (1) a representative authorized by the local board of directors, (2) a representative of the superintendent of public instruction, and (3) the county superintendent of schools under rules and regulations to be formulated by the superintendent of public instruction."
RCW 28.24.020 provides:
"The commission shall cooperate with the local board of directors in establishing new routes of transportation, in approving those routes in operation and in determining costs of individual routes. The action of the local board relating thereto shall be subject to the approval of the commission."
RCW 28.24.030 provides:
"Individual transportation or other arrangements may be authorized when these seem best in the judgment of the commission. No district shall be required to transport any pupil living within two miles of the school which such pupil attends. The commission may require pupils residing within two miles of an established route to travel to the route at their own expense." (Emphasis supplied)
It is to be noted that under the above cited statutes a contract for reimbursement for the transportation of a school director's child would be one which must be authorized by the transportation commission, although the contract would still be with the school district of which the contracting party would be a director.
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The policy to be served by the rule making public officers ineligible to contract with themselves, is the prevention of fraud and special privilege.
The question which you have submitted would not be within the ban against public officers contracting with themselves, by reason of the transportation commission having the final authority in the matter which would alleviate the probability of fraud or special privilege.
Therefore, in our opinion a nonhigh school district may reimburse one of its directors for the expense of transportation of the director's child to attend high school in an adjoining high school district, pursuant to the authorization of the transportation commission as provided in RCW 28.24.030.
Very truly yours,
STEPHEN C. WAY
Assistant Attorney General