Local News

Proposed conflict-of-interest policy comes to board

By From page A1 | March 12, 2014

The Davis Board of Education, rocked by a public dispute over Davis High School’s volleyball coach, will consider amending its bylaws Thursday to expand conflict-of-interest rules involving its members.

The first reading of the policy will follow the board’s public announcement of its decision on former volleyball coach Julie Crawford’s appeal of an administrative decision not to renew her contract as coach. Crawford remains employed as a physical education teacher at DHS.

The administrative decision followed an investigation into a formal complaint against Crawford, filed by Rob Peterson, husband of former trustee Nancy Peterson. Nancy Peterson resigned her seat on the board last week, saying her move was designed to “defuse speculation and end further distractions so that the board may carefully deliberate the findings of the district’s report” on the investigation, which examined Crawford’s decision to cut her daughter from the volleyball team.

The board will convene at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Community Chambers at City Hall, 23 Russell Blvd., to hear public comment, then will adjourn to a closed session at the school district offices across the street. Trustees will return to City Hall to announce their decision and take up the policy issue.

It is unclear how long the closed-session discussion will last. The board deliberated for more than two hours last month when it granted Crawford’s appeal.

The agenda offers an opportunity for the four school board members — Gina Daleiden, Sheila Allen, Susan Lovenburg and Tim Taylor — to express themselves regarding the Crawford/Peterson dispute. The school board members have been tight-lipped regarding the dispute this far, because they function in a quasi-judicial manner as they hear Crawford’s appeal.

The proposed board bylaw covering conflict-of-interest policy will get its first reading by the school board, which typically considers proposed bylaws at two or more meetings before they are formally adopted. The bylaw essentially is “boilerplate” language taken from the California School Boards Association website, which contains recommended generic language for local school boards to consider as they adopt board policies for their district.

The draft covers various aspects of potential financial conflict of interest involving a school board member, as well as two sections relating to the role of a school board member in decisions involving a relative.

Specifically, the bylaw says, “A board member shall abstain from voting on personnel matters that uniquely affect his/her relatives. However, a board member may vote on collective bargaining agreements and personnel matters that affect a class of employees to which his/her relative belongs.”

Another part of the language says “a board member shall abstain from any official action in which his/her private or personal interest may conflict with his/her official duties.”

Thursday’s agenda does not include a discussion of the process of appointing a school board member to fill the vacancy created by Peterson’s resignation. It is likely this will be discussed at the next regular meeting, on March 20.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or 530-747-8055. 

Jeff Hudson

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