Union calls for Fresno Unified board members to step down

FRESNO, Calif.

It claims they violated California conflict-of-interest and compatibility laws by serving on two boards simultaneously.

FTA leaders held a news conference in downtown Fresno today to address the issue.

The Fresno Teachers Association is asking for Trustees Carol Mills and Janet Ryan to step down.

It believes both members created a conflict-of-interest by serving on both the Fresno Unified School Board and the Fresno Innovative Charter School Board, which overseas Dailey Elementary.

The district says the allegations are "misguided, incorrect, and unwarranted."

Fresno Teachers Association President Greg Gadams submitted a formal complaint to the Fresno Unified School District Friday morning to call for the immediate resignation of Board Members Carol Mills and Janet Ryan.

It's the first step in a three-part process outlined by the State Attorney General.

He says the union must follow the guidelines before it can take the district to court.

"It's basically an incompatibility of office. They're holding two elected positions at the same time," Gadams said.

Gadams accuses Mills and Ryan of violating state conflict-of-interest laws by holding two seats on two school boards - one in which he says oversees the other.

The Fresno Unified School District Board is the authorizing charter entity for Dailey Charter," Gadams said.

He claims holding these dual posts sets up the possibility of a significant clash of duties or loyalty between the two offices.

One he believes led to Fresno Unified's recent decision to move the International Baccalaureate Program from Wawona Middle School to Cooper.

"There was no questioning at the school board as to what's going on or talking with the public and that's really disconcerting, because an institution like this should have held meetings," Gadams said.

State law prohibits public officials from holding two offices simultaneously when one of them has authority over the other.

District officials say Dailey operates as a private non-profit and argues the two boards are compatible because they work towards the same goals.

Public Information Officer Susan Bedi responded on behalf of Board Members Mills and Ryan by issuing a statement saying "the California Education Code specifically permits the chartering authority's district representatives to sit on a charter school board. In fact, the California Department of Education specifically funded Dailey Charter School knowing the composition of the FCIS board."

The FTA says it'll give the district two weeks to respond to its letter.

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