Modesto Teachers Association executive director to leave job

Bee Staff ReportsMay 12, 2014 

Megan Gowans, an executive with the Modesto Teachers Association for the past two decades and currently its executive director, will step down when her contract ends June 30, the association confirmed Monday.

Gowans asked Thursday to be relieved of her duties after MTA’s unsuccessful effort to withdraw from the California Teachers Association. MTA’s board of directors approved her request. And Gowans sent a letter to the membership, stating: “I hope you will understand that I cannot risk having no employment during the upcoming school year. Therefore, I have requested, and the MTA board has approved the request, to cancel my contract for the 2014-15 school year so that I may secure a classroom assignment.”

The way Gowans is paid was key to a vote May 6 by MTA members on whether to split from the California Teachers Association. The result was 58 percent voting against the split and 40 percent in favor.

MTA leadership proposed leaving its state affiliate after the California Teachers Association learned that the local was out of compliance in spending a $280,000 annual grant. The local has received the grant through CTA for decades to pay for office staff: a full-time executive director and a secretary.

But MTA does not directly employ its executive director. Instead, for 22 years, it has paid the Modesto district to keep a former teacher on its payroll. The arrangement has allowed the individual to continue to accrue retirement credit under the California State Teachers Retirement System, better known as CalSTRS. For 22 years, the local has thereby violated the conditions of the grant, according to CTA.

The practice also may violate CalSTRS regulations regarding so-called creditable service – what counts as a teaching job toward retirement benefits.

MTA board President Doug Burton could not be reached Monday afternoon to comment on Gowans’ resignation and how the union intends to replace her.

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