Abbott's opinion sought on lobbyist's place on school board

Jessica M. Karmasek Mar. 11, 2011, 12:00pm


AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - The chairwoman of Texas' Board of Education is seeking the opinion of Attorney General Greg Abbott on a newly elected board member.

On March 4, Abbott's office received a request for an opinion from Gail Lowe, the head of the state school board, regarding the construction of section 7.103(c) in the Education Code.

Lowe, in an e-mail to Legal Newsline, said at issue is one of the board's newest members, Thomas Ratliff.

Ratliff, she explained, also is a lobbyist for "several prominent firms whose business interests seem to intersect with" state school board issues.

"Concerns have been raised among various members of the public and among some SBOE (State Board of Education) board members about whether he can fulfill his duties given the restrictions in Section 7.103(c) and potential conflicts of interest," Lowe said.

Ratliff, she said, also requested that she seek the attorney general's opinion "in an effort to shed light on the prohibition and to clear up his eligibility to serve on the State Board of Education."

Lowe said it is important to ensure the board is acting in accordance with statutes in the Education Code and "to avoid even the appearance of wrongdoing in the disposition of our duties."

"Therefore, I have sought clarification from the AG's office," she said in her e-mail.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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