New York City’s
Conflicts of Interest Law
Frequently Asked Questions by
Department of Education Employees
NYC Conflicts of Interest Board
NYC Department of Education Ethics Office
65 Court Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
What is the Conflicts of Interest Board?
The Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB) was established in 1989 with the
revision of the City Charter. It is the agency charged with the
administration and enforcement of the City’s ethics law. The Conflicts
of Interest Law, contained in Chapter 68 of the City Charter, deals
with the conflicts that might arise for any City employee between his
or her public duties and private interests. Most conflicts are
financial in nature, falling into the following categories:
∑ Gifts and Honoraria
∑ Post-City Employment
∑ Ownership Interests
∑ Financial Relationships
∑ Political Activities
∑ Volunteer Activities
I’m considering seeking a part-time job. Are there restrictions?
Generally, the City’s Conflicts of Interest Law does not prohibit
second jobs, unless the second job is with a company that has business
with the City, including the DOE, such as City contracts or a license
with a City agency. You also may not have a second job that puts you in
personal, written, or telephone contact with the DOE or any City
employees. In addition, your second job must be done on your own time,
and you may not use your official DOE position, letterhead,
confidential information, or DOE personnel or equipment to perform the
job or to benefit your non-DOE employer. In seeking your outside job,
you must adhere to the above rules as well.
What if the job is with a firm that has business dealings with the City
or the DOE?
Waivers are available, depending on circumstances. You must receive
written approval from the Chancellor stating that your second job would
not conflict with your official DOE duties. Contact the DOE’s
Ethics Officer to see if the Chancellor will approve your request. The
approval, if granted, will be forwarded by the Ethics Officer to the
COIB along with a request for a waiver. If the COIB sees no conflict,
you will be granted a waiver and you will be permitted to take the
second job. If the firm has dealings with the DOE, obtaining a waiver
is more difficult, but each waiver request is handled on a case-by-case
I work as a secretary for the DOE, and I want to take a job working
nights and weekends for a firm that does business with the Department
of Consumer Affairs. May I do this?
No. A City employee is not permitted to accept a second job with – or
have ownership interest in – any firm, including a private university,
that does business with the City. However, the COIB will grant waivers
where they feel that no true conflict of interest would exist.
I am a high school math teacher, and I have written a math book on my
own time. My publisher wants to sell the book to DOE schools, including
my own school. Is this allowed?
You will first need an approval letter from the Chancellor’s Office and
a waiver from the COIB. However, you may not accept any royalties from
the sale of the book to the entire Region where your school is located.
In addition, no DOE employee who wants to sell a book to the DOE can be
involved in any sales of the book to the DOE, or in the selection of
books to be purchased by the DOE.
I am a school psychologist. Excellent Evaluators, a psychological
testing firm, wishes to hire me to perform evaluations of children who
attend DOE schools. Excellent Evaluators does not do business with the
DOE, but my evaluations would be submitted to the DOE and might be
reviewed at Impartial Hearings concerning the children I have
evaluated. DOE employees participate in the Impartial Hearings. I might
even have to appear at Impartial Hearings. May I perform this work for
No, you may not. The Conflicts of Interest Law prohibits City employees
from appearing, directly or indirectly, before any City agency,
including the DOE. Your personal appearances at Impartial Hearings and
the submission and review of your evaluations would be appearances
before the DOE, which are prohibited by the Conflicts Law. (Under
certain circumstances, pursuant to a waiver granted by the Conflicts of
Interest Board, DOE employees may “appear” before the DOE as
independent providers to the DOE working pursuant to RSA’s).
My sister is looking for a job as a teacher. May I give her
resume to DOE employees, or email DOE colleagues recommending her for a
No. Both Chancellor’s Regulation C-110 and the Conflicts of
Interest Law strictly prohibit DOE employees from taking any action to
help a relative, or the spouse or registered domestic partner of a
relative, to get a job at the DOE or any other City agency or vendor to
the DOE. Also, DOE employees may not supervise,
directly or indirectly, a relative or the spouse or registered domestic
partner of a relative. These prohibitions also apply to the relatives
of a DOE employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner. In
addition, the prohibitions apply to anyone with whom the DOE employee
or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner has a financial
relationship, such as a co-investor, tenant or landlord. The
definition of “relatives” whom DOE employees may not help to get a job
or supervise is very broad. DOE employees should contact
the DOE’s Ethics Officer or the Conflicts of Interest Board if they are
unsure of whether an individual is a relative or not, or whether or not
you have a financial relationship with them, pursuant to Chancellor’s
Regulation C-110 and/or the Conflicts of Interest Law.
Q: That's a lot! Let's see if I understand this. My
brother's wife is looking for a job at the regional office. Does
this mean that I can't make a call to encourage them to hire her?
A: That's right. If you work for the DOE, you may not make
that call! And you could not make the call if it was your
spouse's sister or your registered domestic partner’s sister who was
looking for the job. Remember, you should contact the DOE’s
Ethics Officer or the Conflicts of Interest Board if you have any
questions about whether an individual is a relative or not.
A vendor I work with at the DOE asked me if I might be interested in
leaving the DOE and working for them. May I interview for a position
with that firm?
You could pursue the opportunity, but first you’d have to be removed
from your dealings with that firm. Once the negotiations are over, if
you don’t take the position with the firm, you may return to the
project you were working on with the firm. Also, the interviews have to
be on your own time; you may not use DOE supplies or personnel, and you
couldn’t use DOE letterhead for any correspondence regarding the
The job would involve my returning to the DOE, on behalf of the new
firm, to discuss business. Does that pose a problem?
Yes. Former DOE employees are prohibited from appearing before the DOE
on business for a period of one year. This means you may not appear in
person, write letters, or make phone calls to the DOE on behalf of your
new employer for one full year after leaving City employment. You are
not restricted from returning to your old office or school to have
lunch with friends, as long as your purpose is social, not business.
Suppose I retired from the DOE where I did purchasing, and then six
months later I wanted to establish a consulting firm representing
businesses that want to sell to the DOE. Would this be a problem?
You cannot, as a former employee, appear before your old agency for one
year. So you can’t make phone calls, attend meetings, or write letters
on behalf of your clients to the DOE. Since this is what is usually
involved in consulting, you might, with these restrictions in mind,
have a hard time finding clients.
I just accepted a position with the State Board of Regents doing the
same thing I am doing for the DOE. Is this a conflict?
No. The Board of Regents is a government entity. Positions with
government entities are exempt from the Post-Employment Rules under the
I’ve heard about the “valuable gifts’ rule. Could you explain it?
DOE employees are restricted from accepting gifts with a value of $50
or more from any person or firm doing business with the City, not just
the DOE. This includes cash, tickets to concerts, plays or sports
events, as well as travel expenses and meals. In addition, the
DOE strongly discourages its employees and officials from accepting ANY
gift from any vendor to the DOE.
My students have collectively contributed to a $60 fruit basket for me
for the end-of-the-year holidays. May I accept this gift?
While it is never appropriate to accept gifts from students that are of
anything more than minimal financial value – and of course no amount of
cash should ever be accepted – in this case, it appears that a number
of students contributed small amounts of money to buy the basket. But
the gift must be identified as coming from the entire class, not from
the individual students who contributed. Also, the maximum that parents
may be asked to contribute toward a teacher’s gift must be a small
My school PTA has selected a Teacher of the Year and would like to give
her a plaque. This is okay, isn’t it?
Generally, this would be okay, provided the value of the plaque does
not exceed $150. The COIB has established $150 as the maximum value of
such an award that any City employee may receive.
What is the prohibition on having an ownership interest in a business?
The restriction is only on having an interest in a firm that does
business with the City. Like the restriction on second jobs with firms
doing business with the City, you would need permission of the
Chancellor and an order from the COIB. This also applies if the
interest is held by your spouse, domestic partner, or children under 18.
My assistant is a skilled tradesperson who does great work. Can I hire
her to do work for me at home?
No. Superiors and subordinates are prohibited from having any kind of
financial relationship. This includes lending money, other than a
nominal amount, going into business together, employing one another, or
paying for goods and/or services. This prohibition serves as protection
to all City employees from abuses by coworkers who might expect a
payback some time in the future.
What are the restrictions on political activities?
Being a public servant does not diminish your right to engage in
political activity. However, there are a few rules:
∑ You must perform all your political activities on your own time;
∑ You may not use DOE letterhead, supplies, equipment or personnel;
∑ You may not coerce or induce fellow employees to participate in or
contribute to a campaign by threatening their jobs or by promising them
a raise or promotion;
∑ You may not even ask subordinates to contribute to, or participate
in, a campaign;
∑ Your contribution may not be in return for your appointment or
promotion as a public servant;
∑ If you are a high ranking DOE official, you may not engage in fund
raising for certain political campaigns or hold certain political party
I would like to volunteer to be on the Board of Directors or take an
administrative position for a not-for-profit that has dealings with the
DOE. Is that a conflict of interest?
It could be. In such a case, you must first obtain written
approval from the Chancellor’s Office stating that your volunteer work
would be in the best interests of the City. Contact the DOE Ethics
Officer to obtain this permission. If you receive approval, you will
have to abide by the following restrictions: All of your volunteer work
must be done on your own time; you may not use DOE letterhead,
supplies, equipment, or personnel for the work; you may not take part
in any business the not-for-profit has with the City; you may not be
compensated (if you are, you would be covered by the second job
restrictions); and you may not use confidential DOE or City
information, nor may you use your DOE position to benefit your
I serve without pay on the Board of Directors of a not-for-profit
organization that receives a grant from the Parks Department but has no
dealings with the DOE. Is this okay?
Yes, provided that you have nothing to do with the organization’s
business dealings with the City and that none of the work is done on
City time or using City resources or personnel.
I am thinking of volunteering as a basketball coach in a program
sponsored by a not-for-profit that gets funding from the DOE. I would
have no administrative or decision making authority. I can do this,
If you have no decision-making authority at the organization, no
involvement in the business with the DOE, and are not doing the work of
a paid employee, you may volunteer there without receiving DOE approval.
I just learned through my DOE job that the DOE is considering
purchasing a new state of the art e-mail system that uses brand new
technology. I have a friend who is in that field, and I’d like to
discuss it with him. I can do this, can’t I?
No. A public servant may not disclose confidential information
concerning the property, affairs, or government of the City, including
the DOE, which is obtained as a result of his or her official duties
and which is not otherwise available to the public.
Note: These materials are intended as a general guide. For more
information on the Conflicts of Interest or Financial Disclosure Laws,
call or write the NYC Department of Education Ethics Office Telephone -
(718) 935-5300, Fax - (718) 935-2987 or the Conflicts of Interest
Board at (212) 442-1400.