- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

HONOLULU (AP) - The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled that state Ethics Commission shouldn’t have held a Hilo charter school employee liable for violating conflict of interest laws.

The state high court ruled in favor of William Eric Boyd on Tuesday, reversing a lower court’s decision. Boyd was fined $10,000 by the commission in 2013 for alleged violations in 2006 and 2007, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (https://bit.ly/29NDN5S).

The commission had found Boyd violated state conflict of interest laws by ordering and approving purchases for the charter school from businesses owned by his wife. The school contracted with the Boyds’ company to provide school lunches and also bought items from their Amway business.

Boyd argued that ethics rules for state employees didn’t apply to him because he worked for the local school board that governed the charter school.

The circuit and Intermediate courts sided with the commission. But the Supreme Court found the commission did not have the authority to fine Boyd because charter schools weren’t subject to the state ethics code at the time and had their own ethics rules for employees.

It wasn’t until 2012 that the state required charter school employees to be held to the same standards under the ethics code as state employees.

“Eric and I are very grateful that the Supreme Court looked carefully at our case,” said Boyd’s attorney, Ted Hong. “We’re just very relieved the court found merit to the argument that we made from the beginning.

Susan Yoza, the commission’s interim executive director, said the group hasn’t “had a chance yet to review the entire opinion,” but will be in discussions with the attorney general over the court’s decision.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, https://www.staradvertiser.com

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