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SACS disagrees over conflict of interest forms

– Southwest Allen County Schools board members will return to the drawing board on the topic of conflict of interest.

Along with naming new officers and designating a corporation treasurer, Thursday’s agenda included discussion about the disclosure and acceptance of conflict of interest statements.

But what wasn’t clear was whether the board needed to vote to approve the statements – or if the statements could be sent to the State Board of Accounts without board approval.

Board member Tim Loomis said he believed the board needed to vote to approve the statements, but board Vice President Holly Glick said Loomis was attempting to stir trouble and “pick on” other board members.

Glick said, in the past, it had been requested that the board vote on each conflict of interest form independently, allowing board members to approve some and not others.

“These people are not trying to get rich off Southwest Allen County Schools,” Glick said, launching the group into a heated debate.

Board President John Blum, who works for JPMorgan Chase Bank, and board Secretary Mark Gilpin, who is the owner of Applied Technology Group, both must file conflict of interest forms annually because their companies do business with the district.

Blum is not directly involved in district financing issues, while Gilpin’s company has sold a phone system and security cameras to the district.

Business Manager Jim Coplen also signs a conflict of interest form because his daughter works in the district, Blum said.

Loomis said that he would like to see more details included on the conflict of interest forms.

“I believe that the statements in general should not be a catch-all,” Loomis said.

Glick said Loomis was ridiculous for picking on other board members about the forms when both Gilpin and Blum go “above and beyond” to leave the room during votes that are related to their businesses.

The board agreed to meet with attorney Tuck Hopkins and re-evaluate the board policy surrounding conflict of interest forms.