BERKELEY -- School board President Leah Wilson will resign her post March 31, citing a potential conflict of interest with her new job as Court Executive Officer of Alameda County Superior Court.
Wilson, 40, will start the new job April 15 and will have oversight for nonjudicial services and staff functions of a court organization consisting of 85 judges and commissioners and more than 700 employees. She said Monday that as head of the court staff, any lawsuits involving the Berkeley school district in Alameda County would create a bias if she did not resign her post on the school board.
"Not only would I know about any litigation coming before the courts, it would give litigants a feeling of potential bias," Wilson said.
Wilson, a lawyer, was elected in November 2010 to a four-year term on the school board. She currently works as an analyst in the Alameda County administrator's office.
The school board will discuss replacing Wilson at a Wednesday night meeting at 6:25 p.m. in room 126 of the school district administration building at 2020 Bonar St. in Berkeley. The Berkeley city charter, which established the school board, says the board can appoint a new member when there is a vacancy.
Almost immediately after Wilson was elected to the school board in 2010, she and other members were challenged by the biggest security crisis at Berkeley schools in years: Between Jan. 1 and March 21, 2011, six Berkeley High students and one from Berkeley Technology Academy were arrested with guns on campus.
During that crisis, Wilson often sparred with then-Superintendent Bill Huyett and administrators over the speed and the kind of reforms the district was taking in reaction to make the high schools safer.
"We have heard some serious criticism of how we have handled things including allegations of cover-ups by the district attorney," Wilson said during one board meeting in March 2011. "That is damaging discourse to have out there. I say we specifically solicit the participation of some of those who are critical of the district from the right and the left."
On Monday, she said her approach to that crisis "was a little bit different because I felt we really need to find out how this happened and who these students were to be able to design our intervention. When we decided to do these other things, like targeting kids on probation, that's what I was questioning, because none of the kids who were arrested were on probation."
When asked what were her most satisfying moments on the board over the last two years, Wilson declined to answer but said she will say more at the Wednesday board meeting. School district spokesman Mark Coplan said no one in the district can remember a school board member resigning.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.