The Pleasanton school district's attorney doesn't see a conflict of interest issue regarding Board Member Jeff Bowser and his wife, Patty, who is an official with the Association of Pleasanton Teachers (APT).
It recently came to light that Patty Bowser, a third-grade teacher at Hearst Elementary School, is a member of the elementary at-large committee. Her role in the union is to relay concerns from elementary school teachers to the union's executive committee.
Attorney Robert Kingsley advises the school board on conflicts of interest and recently conducted a workshop with the board on those conflicts.
"Mr. Bowser doesn't sit on the district's negotiating team but he does sit on the school board, and the board gives general direction to the negotiating team (but) I have advised the board that Mr. Bowser does not have a conflict of interest under either Government Code section 1090 or under the Political Reform Act," Kingsley said.
"Government Code section 1090 prohibits a public official from having a financial interest in a contract entered into by his/her agency," Kingsley continued. "The Political Reform Act, as interpreted by the FPPC (Fair Political Practices Commission), states that an interest in a spouse's income is not material. This means that it's not a factor unless the agency is going to set a different salary for the spouse than it does for other employees in the same classification – in this case, the 'class' (of employee) is 'teacher.'"
While Kingsley admits some people may perceive a conflict, his concern is the law, not public perception.
"A perceived conflict of interest does not present a legal issue. I cannot affect what people perceive other than by advising that the facts do not create a legal conflict," he said.
Pleasanton school district staff and the union have recently begun negotiations on changes to the its contract.
Union President Trevor Knaggs has said that Patty Bowser was a member of the union team before Bowser ran for the board and called her "above reproach."