Three former elected officials are alleging Madison School Board President Gloria Reyes violated the body’s ethics policy when she voted in favor of a contract that would keep Madison police officers in the district’s high schools.
On Tuesday, former City Council members Andy Heidt, Brenda Konkel and Andy Olsen, who also served on the Dane County Board, sent a letter to the district calling on the School Board to vote again on the school resource officer, or SRO, contract. They claim that Reyes, a former Madison police officer and deputy city mayor, should not have been allowed to vote on it last week.
The letter, which was sent to the seven board members, Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and the district’s legal counsel, claims that Reyes now works in the city’s Community Development Division.
The trio alleges Reyes’ employment with the city creates a conflict of interest as the three-year contract is with the Madison Police Department, and a board policy says no member should “participate in or attempt to influence the district’s purchasing process in matters involving” a company or other organization that employs the member.
Reyes did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday to say whether she works for the city or respond to the allegations.
“We also recommend that all members of the Madison School Board attend ethics training as soon as possible,” the letter said.
Reyes served as deputy mayor under former Mayor Paul Soglin and was in charge of handling issues related to public safety, civil rights and community services. She told the State Journal last July she planned to recuse herself from any vote on SROs “as of right now due to my position in the city.”
Soglin was defeated in April, though, and Reyes is no longer a deputy mayor.
Last week during a special meeting, the board voted 4-3 in favor of a contract to continue having one SRO each at East, La Follette, Memorial and West high schools, but it would give the district the option to drop one of the officers starting in the 2020-21 school year.
“I am no longer serving as deputy mayor for the city and that is why I was recusing myself, because I thought there was a conflict of interest as deputy mayor overseeing the Madison Police Department,” Reyes said after the meeting last week.
The contract is scheduled to go before the city’s Finance Committee on Monday and to the City Council for a vote on July 2.