School board could settle with AG over Martinez debacle

Sep 8, 2014

The Washoe County School District Board of Trustees is voting Tuesday on whether or not to accept a settlement agreement with the Nevada Attorney General over the improper firing of Superintendent Pedro Martinez. 

After conducting an investigation, the attorney general's office found that six of the seven trustees violated Nevada's open meeting law in numerous ways. The most egregious included meeting in private during what was ostensibly a "legal meeting" to discuss the superintendent's contact, deciding to terminate his employment in that context and negotiating those terms without proper notification. 

Now, the trustees have an opportunity to put to this debacle behind them, but that requires they first acknowledge that they did violate the law and any actions are now void. The settlement also stipulates that the trustees reaffirm their commitment to the open meeting law and apologize for causing "substantial and legitimate" public concern. Under the agreement, each trustee will also pay a $250 civil fine. 

In interviews with the attorney general's office, several trustees were surprised that they broke the law. For example, Trustee Howard Rosenberg said, at the time, he was told by the district's in-house counsel, Randy Drake, that they weren't  even close to violating the open meeting law. 

Superintendent Martinez has since returned to work and, later this month, the trustees will enter mediation with Martinez.