Board ponders possible conflicts of interest

BY DI STAFF | OCTOBER 07, 2009 7:20 AM

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Iowa City School Board members said they may seek guidance from the Iowa Attorney General’s Office regarding possible conflict-of-interest issues.

At the School Board’s retreat, members discussed newly elected member Sarah Swisher’s employment at Service Employees International Union, and School Board attorney Kirsten Frey recommended board members make the inquiry.

Frey said she made that recommendation about Swisher because positions the labor union holds could affect Swisher’s votes on potential decisions.

“If there’s a questionable call, I think it’s better to err on the side of caution,” she said.

Swisher should decline to vote on issues about which she feels biased, Frey said, and there will likely be few cases that raise this concern.

However, Frey and some board members objected to focusing on a single issue. The group discussed reassessing potential biases for all its members, including Mike Cooper’s employment at Pearson.

The board members will likely make a decision on the matter at the Oct. 27 meeting.

— by Holly Hines

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