Madison Metropolitan School Board member Gloria Reyes looks on following the MMSD board swearing-in ceremony at Cesar Chávez Elementary School in Madison on April 29, 2019.

Several former elected officials sent a complaint to the Madison School Board and Madison Metropolitan School District alleging that School Board President Gloria Reyes violated ethics policies by voting to approve a contract extending the presence of police officers in Madison's high schools. 

The school resource officer contract passed on a 4-3 vote in less than five minutes on June 10 during a special workshop session. Reyes, who was first elected to the board in 2018, had previously recused herself from votes on the SRO contract because she worked as deputy mayor in former Mayor Paul Soglin's administration. Following Soglin's defeat in the April 2019 mayoral election, Reyes has claimed that she is free to vote and participate in the SRO contract issue because she no longer works in the mayor's office. 

Reyes still works for the city of Madison, however, in the community development division. The city of Madison is a vendor in SRO contract, which the complainants — Andy Heidy, Brenda Konkel and Andy Olsen — say is grounds for Reyes to continue to not participate in SRO votes or discussions. 

"The rules clearly state that she should not 'participate in' the purchasing process involving this vendor," the three complainants wrote. "Furthermore, she did not state the nature of the conflict or remove herself from the table for the discussion."

In a statement through MMSD's spokesperson on Wednesday, School Board Vice President Kate Toews said the seven-person group takes its responsibility under the ethics policy seriously. 

"Under that policy, the board is responsible for monitoring adherence to the code of ethics and will do so in this case," the statement reads. "We will move quickly to ensure that responsibility is met."

The statement did not elaborate on what is or has been done to make sure that responsibility was met.

Reyes did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday evening.

"As former elected officials with training and experience in ethics laws and conflicts of interest, we recommend that the matter be resolved by reconsideration of the SRO contract by the Board, with the School Board President abstaining from all motions, discussions and votes," the complainants wrote. "We also recommend that all members of the Madison School Board attend ethics training as soon as possible."

The School Board's conflict of interest policy states that "No employee or member of the BOARD OF EDUCATION whose non-DISTRICT employment or independent contracting is compensated by a DISTRICT vendor shall participate in or attempt to influence the DISTRICT's purchasing process in matters involving such vendor."

Board policy also states that when a conflict of interest for a board member arises, they must state the nature and extent of the conflict or the appearance of the conflict and physically remove themselves from the table while avoiding any discussion or voting on the issue. 

Reyes' vote was critical to the passing of the SRO contract last week. If she were to not vote and the rest of the School Board members kept their votes the same, the board would not have enough votes to pass the contract, which currently expires at the end of the month. 

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Education Reporter

Negassi Tesfamichael is the local education reporter at The Cap Times. He joined the paper in 2018. He previously worked as an intern at WISC-TV/ and at POLITICO.