June 18th, 2009 | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Schools

Charter School Parent Files Ethics Complaint

oea

There's a new twist in the debate over Senate Bill 767, a measure that would tighten rules around Oregon's charter schools such as the online Oregon Connections Academy based in the Scio district.

Today, Anne Marie Gurney, a parent of one of the 2,500 students at that online charter — which faces closure if SB767 passes, filed a complaint (PDF) with the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.

In her complaint, Gurney alleges that Cindy Hunt, a lawyer for the Oregon Department of Education, is guilty of a conflict of interest. Gurney alleges the conflict arose from Hunt simultaneously advising the Oregon State Board of Education, which opposes a key section of SB 767, and the 47,000-member Oregon Education Association, a key backer of the bill (The full House is expected to soon consider the bill, which the Senate earlier approved by a 16-14 vote).

"Hunt abdicated her role as a fiduciary of the public process by providing direct counsel to the OEA even though their clearly stated objective was to short-circuit the OBE waiver review process and close ORCA and other schools," Gurney wrote.

In a story published yesterday in WW, Hunt acknowledged helping OEA craft the bill but said she was merely providing technical advice to the union, as she would to any group that asked.
Here's a response to the ethics complaint from ODE spokesman Morgan Allen:

"Both Superintendent Castillo and State Board Chair Wyse fully support Ms. Hunt and would take strong exception to assertions that she has acted in any manner that is unprofessional or unethical. The complaint is baseless and without merit. Ms. Hunt has acted appropriately and ethically in all her dealings related to SB 767. We look forward to a quick dismissal by the Commission."

 
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