Peter Darrah
For Mountain View Whisman School Board 2016

Does your wife being a teacher create a conflict of interest?

Short answer

Many people have the same question I had when I first decided to run - does my wife being a teacher create a conflict of interest because I would be voting on her salary?

According to California law, the answer is no.

The longer answer is that I can vote on the teacher contract because my wife is covered by collective bargaining. Her salary is set along with all the other 250 teachers in the district. It's based solely on years of service and education. No Board member, Superintendent, or Principal can affect her salary apart from the rest of the teachers. Similarly, I could vote on matters affecting her school as long as it did not single my wife out for special treatment.

Of course, I would have to recuse myself from a personnel issue regarding my wife or any issue where I could affect her directly.

Really long answer

The above is a short version of the really long answer involving reading the California statutes regarding conflict of interest. The law specifically describes this case and describes a spouse in a collective bargaining agreement as a "remote interest." You can see this on the District's website:

http://www.mvwsd.org/component/content/article/77-district/310-bb-9270-a-conflict-of-interest

The FPPC has more information on it:

Still concerned?

If you are still concerned about this issue, send me email. I would be interested to hear your feedback.

I think you would find the downside of a potential conflict is outweighed by the benefits of knowing a teacher and hearing about what does and does not work with students. From phonics to EDI, my wife has given me a unique and important perspective on education in the District.

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