Education
10:19 am
Thu July 31, 2014

School board hears hours of public outrage

The board still can't say much about the superintendent, but that didn't stop public comment, hours of it. Parents, lawmakers, community leaders, business people, many accused the board of improperly and unfairly attempting to fire Pedro Martinez.

Theresa Navarro, a local education advocate, was one of them.

"We are so disgusted with you, and I want a recall action."

Others were not so inflammatory, although some did throw around accusations of racism. But almost everyone said the lack of transparency and the abrupt nature of the decision constituted a betrayal of the public's trust. Even First Lady Kathleen Sandoval was there to voice her opinion.

"To see the progress that we have started to make and now we have destroyed that stability. The decision, I feel, was very narrow and very short-sighted. I have got calls from federal people about funding this district receives, funding that my non-profit receives, specific to the school district."

Sandoval was not the only prominent person to take the podium. Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey of Reno said losing Martinez could jeopardize the school district's leverage in this upcoming legislative session.

"This action of removing Superintendent Martinez, at this moment, may have very serious ramifications for Washoe County and Nevada."

While much of the story has come from Martinez up to this point, legal documents filed by the district in response to his lawsuit shed a bit more light. In its motion, the board provides a bio of Martinez in which he describes himself as a certified public accountant, or CPA. Martinez says he is one, but not licensed and says he never claimed otherwise. But the district argues that in Illinois, where Martinez received his degree, a person must be registered or licensed; otherwise, he/she is not a CPA, regardless of the degree. They argue Martinez routinely misrepresented that.

The motion also lists a number of ways that Martinez allegedly broke his contract. Those include intentionally excluding the board from personnel issues, like not consulting them when he unilaterally transferred 12 principals; they say he made material misrepresentations about other high-profile personnel decisions that have then subjected the board to criticism; and they say he thwarted their efforts to hire more counselors and repeatedly did not respond to complaints by parents, especially those about the district's Special Education Program.

The board maintains it did not, in fact, fire him, and that the legal meeting, in which they made this decision, is not subject to Nevada's Open Meeting Law. The board is asking to have until mid October to respond to the complaint. Meanwhile, they've asked the Attorney General's office for a temporary stay in its investigation of whether or not the board violated the Open Meeting Law. That's in order to give the district time to take corrective action. The board plans to hold a meeting in August when they'll discuss--with plenty of notice--the superintendent's contract.

- See more at: http://www.kunr.org/news/trustees-hear-hours-of-public-criticism#sthash.4iN14aKH.dpuf

The Washoe County School Board has filed a motion asking for more time to respond to the lawsuit filed by Superintendent Pedro Martinez. Meanwhile, the board endured hours of criticism and public outrage at its meeting Tuesday.

The board still can't say much about the superintendent, but that didn't stop public comment, hours of it. Parents, lawmakers, community leaders, business people, many accused the board of improperly and unfairly attempting to fire Pedro Martinez.

Theresa Navarro, a local education advocate, was one of them.

"We are so disgusted with you, and I want a recall actually."

Others were not so inflammatory, although some did throw around accusations of racism. But almost everyone said the lack of transparency and the abrupt nature of the decision constituted a betrayal of the public's trust. Even First Lady Kathleen Sandoval was there to voice her opinion.

"To see the progress that we have started to make and now we have destroyed that stability. The decision, I feel, was very narrow and very short-sighted. I have got calls from federal people about funding this district receives, funding that my non-profit receives, specific to the school district."

Sandoval was not the only prominent person to take the podium. Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey of Reno said losing Martinez could jeopardize the school district's leverage in this upcoming legislative session.

"This action of removing Superintendent Martinez, at this moment, may have very serious ramifications for Washoe County and Nevada."

While much of the story has come from Martinez up to this point, legal documents filed by the district in response to his lawsuit shed a bit more light. In its motion, the board provides a bio of Martinez in which he describes himself as a certified public accountant, or CPA. Martinez says he is one, but not licensed and says he never claimed otherwise. But the district argues that in Illinois, where Martinez received his degree, a person must be registered or licensed; otherwise, he/she is not a CPA, regardless of the degree. They argue Martinez routinely misrepresented that.

The motion also lists a number of ways that Martinez allegedly broke his contract. Those include intentionally excluding the board from personnel issues, like not consulting them when he unilaterally transferred 12 principals; they say he made material misrepresentations about other high-profile personnel decisions that have then subjected the board to criticism; and they say he thwarted their efforts to hire more counselors and repeatedly did not respond to complaints by parents, especially those about the district's Special Education Program.

The board maintains it did not, in fact, fire him, and that the legal meeting, in which they made this decision, is not subject to Nevada's Open Meeting Law. The board is asking to have until mid October to respond to the complaint. Meanwhile, they've asked the Attorney General's office for a temporary stay in its investigation of whether or not the board violated the Open Meeting Law. That's in order to give the district time to take corrective action. The board plans to hold a meeting in August when they'll discuss--with plenty of notice--the superintendent's contract.