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After voiceofsandiego.org reporting raised questions about where school board member Shelia Jackson lives, the president of the San Diego Unified school board has asked for its attorney to weigh in.
There are two issues at hand: Whether Jackson lives in the area that she was elected to represent and whether it is appropriate for her to stay for free with a San Diego Unified administrator.
“The question is, ‘What, if any, responsibility does the district or the school board have moving forward on these issues, now that we’ve been made aware of them?’” Richard Barrera said.
VOSD reporters saw Jackson coming and going from a Kearny Mesa apartment complex four times in a week. The apartments fall outside of the area of the school district she was elected to represent. Jackson also registered a new business at the Kearny Mesa address.
Jackson said she spends a few nights a week in Kearny Mesa, where her daughter lives, and lives the rest of the time in Valencia Park with longtime school administrator Gwendolyn Kirkland. She is registered to vote there and her campaign forms list the Valencia Park address.
The Valencia Park home falls squarely in the area she was elected to represent. But Jackson says she stays there for free, which raises a different set of questions about whether it is appropriate for Jackson to accept free rent from a school district employee and whether she should have revealed it as a gift. Public officials in California are generally supposed to reveal gifts and who they get them from.
Barrera said he contacted Superintendent Bill Kowba, who said he would raise the issue with the district’s attorney. He hopes the school board will have a legal analysis by next Tuesday, when they next meet.
“However these issues play out, I think her focus on advocating for the interests of kids and families in District E is beyond question,” Barrera said, referring to her area of the school district. “Nobody works harder and is a harder champion for the kids and families in her district than Shelia is.”
Emily Alpert is the education reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. What should she write about next? Please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @emilyschoolsyou