10:00 PM PST on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

By SANDRA STOKEY
The Press-Enterprise

GLEN AVON – The California Fair Political Practices Commission has rejected a complaint filed against Jurupa Unified School District board member Mary Burns, citing insufficient information that Burns violated the state’s Political Reform Act.

FPPC Executive Director Roman Porter also advises complainant Denis Fitzgerald that violations of Government Code, section 1090 — which also are alleged in the complaint — are investigated by the local district attorney or the state’s attorney general’s office.

Burns, who originally dismissed the complaint as “absurd,” repeated that statement Tuesday in her reaction to the FPPC’s decision not to investigate.

“These absurd complaints are a distraction from the real issues I have to focus on, which are the budget crisis and improving our schools,” Burns said.

Fitzgerald declined comment Tuesday.

In his complaint, Fitzgerald alleged that Burns and the Jurupa Mountains Cultural Center, the nonprofit earth science center where she works as executive director, benefited financially by having students who have been expelled from Jurupa schools earn credit by working at the cultural center, providing free labor.

As a member of the Jurupa school board, Burns votes on student expulsions.

The complaint also alleges that a “quid pro quo” arrangement exists between Burns and Jurupa Superintendent Elliott Duchon: Burns votes on pay increases and bonuses for Duchon in return for having students assigned to work at the cultural center.

Burns said the accusations are untrue because Jurupa students who are expelled are allowed to freely choose the nonprofit organizations where they can earn community service credits.

To read entire story, click here.