Spotsylvania County School Board member Nicole Cole runs a business that sells college financial planning services and products. Her business targets high school students and their families. The school administration has promoted Cole’s business in the past. Cole’s position on the school board allows her to influence decisions that could potentially provide her with a larger financial benefit. Therein lies the problem. It is a conflict-of-interest.
On January 31, Cole stated at the 2:07:50 mark of the school board meeting video “I really think it’s critical that we increase the counselors next year”. Regardless of the reasons used to justify that statement, Cole would be in a position to directly benefit from this financially.
Counselors, among other responsibilities, provide guidance for those that want to attend college. Cole advocates an increase in the number of counselors in the school budget. If this occurs, she can network and promote her business to more counselors. This can potentially increase her client base for her business and provide a direct financial benefit.
The school administration has supported Cole’s business regardless of the conflict of interests. On October 28, the school administration sent a mass email promoting Cole’s College seminar just days before the election. The flyer says that the seminar was promoted by a Courtland High School counselor. We covered that story at the link below
There is an easy solution to all of this. Nicole Cole should either resign from her position on the school board, refrain from voting on the budget, or shutdown her financial services business. Any one of these actions would avoid the conflict of interest. We suspect that Cole and her supporters will provide many excuses to justify this conflict of interest.