Howard County Board of Education member Ann DeLacy sent fundraising solicitations to more than 25 school system employees using their staff email addresses, according to documents obtained by the Howard County Times.
Invitees included Deputy Superintendent Linda Wise, Executive Director of Facilities Bruce Gist and Director of Executive Services Caryn Lasser.
The school board's vice chairwoman, Ellen Flynn Giles, has asked for an advisory opinion on the matter from the school system's ethics panel, she said. She expects to receive a response in the next two weeks.
DeLacy, who is running for re-election this year, defended the emails Thursday, saying,"There's nothing wrong with that. Those people are my friends."
The emails, which were sent from an evite website between Jan. 6 and 29, contained a link to her campaign fundraiser invitation in which she wrote to invitees: "I am asking for a $100 donation from each guest which will provide live classical and jazz guitar music, food and beverages, plus door prizes."
In a February letter to the board, state Sen. Gail Bates said she had "been alerted" that a board member had been sending fundraising solicitations to school system staff using their "official email accounts."
"I look forward to hearing about the Board's investigation into this matter and, if there is evidence of unethical behavior, what corrective action is take," wrote the Republican representing District 9.
Bates said Thursday that she did not know the identity of the board member in question, and that she "was only referencing the practice as being questionable."
DeLacy said she does not see a conflict of interest in inviting school system staff members to her fundraiser, because they are not her employees.
"The only person who is my employee is the superintendent," she said.
DeLacy was first elected to the board in 2012 after serving as president of the Howard County Education Association and teaching in Howard County schools for 25 years.