She said Tuesday that it is important for a board member to disclose whether his or her family members might gain financially from a decision the school board makes.
"As a public official, you want to do everything possible to be transparent," she said. "It's disclosure. A lot of people don't understand the relationships that exist."
Three current school board members have spouses, siblings or children working for Washington County Public Schools: Wayne D. Ridenour, William H. Staley and Paul W. Bailey.
"This policy may not be construed to permit a board member to participate in a decision to hire, transfer, promote, sever employment or otherwise take individual personnel action regarding the board member's spouse, parent, child, brother or sister whether or not the family member resides in the board member's immediate household," the draft of the policy states.
Ridenour, who attended Tuesday's committee meeting, said he has questions about the proposed policy changes. He said if the board is going to specify relationships, like spouse or sibling, there should be a discussion about other relationships.
"Where do you draw the line?" he asked. "What if it's your best friend's child, or spouse, who is (applying for a job)?"
Ridenour said board members have been ethical without the help of a revised ethics policy, and he believes they can continue to do so.
"I think the public expects us to act in an ethical manner," he said.
Ober said the proposed policy changes work to avoid a conflict of interest for board members and also the appearance of a conflict of interest. She said officials examined policies from other school districts, which all included more conservative language regarding the potential for financial gain for a school board member from a school board decision.
Brightman said the disclosure of those relationships is also important for the public to understand because of what the school board discusses in private. She said the board discusses confidential matters, sometimes about salary increases or bargaining strategies with the teachers union and other groups.
Brightman said there is the potential that those closed-door discussions could get back to a board member's family member or spouse. The public should be aware of that possibility, she said.
"There is the potential, which is why the disclosure is important," Brightman said. "So, the public understands that potential."
If you go
What: Washington County Board of Education meeting where possible changes to the board's ethics policy will be discussed
When: July 15, 1 p.m.
Where: Washington County Public Schools central office, 820 Commonwealth Ave., Hagerstown