Natick School Committee Responds to State Ethics Ruling

NATICK, MA — The Natick School Board responded Friday to a recent ruling by the state Ethics Commission on whether member Catherine Brunell can participate in votes on Johnson Elementary’s closure.

Last week, the state ethics commission advised Brunell that she would have to recuse herself from votes on Johnson’s shutdown. Indeed, Brunell lives near the school and a closure could affect the value of his property.

Many local residents questioned the ethics commission’s decision, asking if it would prevent other elected officials from voting on the Johnson case – or anything else that could affect property values.

In a Friday memo, the school board said each ethics committee decision is unique and would not necessarily apply to other elected officials.

“Our attorneys and the Ethics Commission have stated that the Ethics Commission’s opinions are based on the specific facts of a specific individual and do not apply uniformly beyond that situation,” the memo reads.

Brunell has recused herself from a Johnson-related vote before: Last week, the school board voted to discuss the Nov. 15 shutdown. Only one member, Hayley Sonneborn, voted against this measure.

Here is the draft response published Friday by the Natick School Committee: