Click photo to enlarge
Moraga School District Governing Board member Dexter Louie, center, listens to Governing Board member Kym Leserman, left, during their meeting in Moraga, Calif., on Tuesday, June 12, 2012. It was the first school board meeting since the sex abuse scandal involving a PE teacher. (Doug Duran/Staff)

MORAGA -- Former school board president Dexter Louie has broken his silence, calling his decision to resign less than 24 hours after he was re-elected "painful" and "very personal."

In his first public comments on the topic since his re-election Nov. 6, Louie spoke to the Lamorinda Weekly newspaper, saying that after 14 years serving the Moraga School District, he had hoped for one last term.

"The day after the election, I had a talk with Mr. Charles MacNulty, the vice president of the board," he told the paper. "Later that day, I made a very difficult decision, I believe the right decision for the district, to resign. It was a very painful decision, and my reasons were very personal. At some point, I hope I will be able to explain further."

Calls and emails to Louie before and after the election have not been returned.

Louie has helped guide the district through a child sex abuse scandal, which included a lawsuit filed by Cal assistant swim coach and former Moraga student Kristen Cunnane, and legal claims from two "Jane Does" asking for more than $30 million. All three involve suspected child abuse by two former Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School teachers in the 1990s -- Julie Correa and Daniel Witters -- and former district administrators who failed to do their mandated reporting duties to prevent abuse.

Although he didn't mention it, Louie may have had a conflict of interest concerning the Cunnane case. Two of Louie's relatives spoke on behalf of Correa -- Cunnane's abuser, who pleaded no contest to four felony counts and is serving eight years in prison -- at her sentencing hearing in December 2011.

Despite the personal connection to Cunnane's case, Louie participated in an Oct. 9 closed session discussion on her case.

School district Superintendent Bruce Burns was not immediately available for comment Wednesday on whether the board was aware of Louie's connection to the case and the district's view on whether he should have been participating.

Cunnane, whose abuse started in the eighth grade, sued the Moraga School District and those former administrators, claiming they created an environment that allowed Correa and Witters to abuse her.

Louie was absent from the Cunnane discussion during a special closed session school board meeting Nov. 2, the Friday before the election, due to "personal reasons." He then recused himself from a special closed session meeting discussing all three cases the morning after his Nov. 6 election win. He resigned hours later.

A government affairs expert said Louie would not have been legally required to recuse himself from the Cunnane lawsuit discussion. But whether it was ethical to be part of them is another question.

"Certainly a question of bias enters into it," said Bob Stern, former president of the Center for Governmental Studies. "There is no legal requirement, but there are ethical requirements.

"Most people feel they can be ethical and can participate, but they don't understand the consequence and how it looks to other people," he said.

Louie did not tell the Weekly what changed after he decided to run for office months ago and before his decision to resign.

"There were so many complex issues, and I can't disclose a great deal because of the pending litigation and privacy concerns," he said. "I thought about not running again, but Mr. (Dennis) Kelleher had already indicated he was not running for re-election, and I felt experience was needed on the board."

The board must now decide how to fill his position, either by special election or appointment.

"I have done nothing wrong," Louie said.

Contact Matthias Gafni at 925-952-5026. Follow him at Twitter.com/mgafni.