Wareham Selectmen reaffirm special municipal employee status for School Committee Members

Jan 29, 2019

Wareham Selectmen reaffirmed a 2013 decision on Tuesday night that classifies all School Committee members as “special municipal employees” under Massachusetts state law, preventing a conflict of interest for recently appointed committee member Geoff Swett.

Appointed by the School Committee and Board of Selectmen on Jan. 24, Swett fills a vacancy left by former School Committee member Rebekah Pratt who resigned in December.

A veteran of the board, Swett previously served on the committee for four terms starting in 2005. Outside of the committee, Swett is a school bus driver and Wareham High School’s tennis coach. 

Normally, these two things would create a conflict of interest for Swett to serve on the School Committee, according to Town Counsel Richard Bowen; but the special municipal employee status of the School Committee still allows him to serve.

As Bowen explained, special municipal employee status allows candidates with conflicts of interest to serve in their positions because of a lack of general interest. Under state law, this status may be assigned to several municipal positions by the Board of Selectmen if deemed fit.

Though Pratt’s term is set to expire in 2021, Swett’s appointment to her seat will end in April of this year, at which point a new School Committee member will be chosen through the town election. 

Swett, along with two other candidates, will then run for a seat on the Committee. Swett said he plans to challenge incumbent Mary Morgan for her three-year seat. 

To read more about Swett’s appointment, click here.