Impatience for the August retirement of Superintendent Walt Rulffes was evident Thursday at a Clark County School Board meeting.
Noting that some board members have said they did not know about a decision to hire a private law firm to challenge the legitimacy of the administrators union, Assembly candidate Kevinn Donovan said, "I believe you have a rogue superintendent on your hands who needs to be removed immediately."
Marzette Lewis, who alleges that the Clark County School District's priorities for improving school facilities come at the expense of providing adequate schools to minority students, said, "You need to get rid of Rulffes tonight."
While there was some testiness between the School Board and the superintendent over the timing and policy implications of a grant application Thursday, board members took no action on Rulffes' employment status.
His contract expires Aug. 31. The board has discussed keeping him on the job longer if necessary, but pressure is mounting on the board to appoint an interim successor.
Today , the board holds a public meeting to discuss the criteria for the superintendent search, but those who are part of a grass-roots movement know who they want: philanthropist and KVBC-TV, Channel 3, owner Jim Rogers.
Andre Mendoza, the leader of No Parent Left Behind, said his community group of Hispanic parents and activists has collected more than 7,000 signatures supporting the appointment of Rogers as interim superintendent for the nation's fifth-largest public school system.
Mendoza, who brings a bullhorn to meetings to discourage district officials from trying to silence or talk over him, said his group plans to attend the meeting at 5 p.m. today at Cimarron-Memorial High School, 2301 N. Tenaya Way, to lobby for Rogers.
"This is something we have to do," Mendoza said. "It's a win-win situation."
He said the public is eager for a clean start because of controversies such as the awarding of special perks to five top executives during a financial crisis. The district has been coping with a $145 million funding shortfall for 2010-11.
Mendoza also cited Rogers' experience as the former Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor, his offer to work for free and the time it will give the School Board to conduct a thorough search for a permanent successor.
Rogers has publicly volunteered to become interim superintendent, but he said he is not funding or backing the efforts of those lobbying for him.
"Oh God, no," he said. "I don't do business that way."
Rogers said his attitude about the School Board is: "If they can use my help in any way, I would be happy to help."
School Board member Larry Mason said the Hispanic community supports Rogers because he was attentive to minority concerns as chancellor. They also appreciate him for funding college scholarships through the Latin Chamber of Commerce.
"Jim Rogers has not drummed this up," Mason said. "The Latino community has drummed this up."
Stephen Augspurger, executive director of the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-technical Employees, has called for Rulffes to step down immediately.
"You know, it doesn't matter if it's Jim Rogers or somebody else," he said. "Employees are growing weary. We have a budget crisis, but we also have a bigger problem: a failure to lead on the part of the elected officials and the superintendent."
The district needs to identify another $28 million in cuts or savings to complete its budget for 2010-11. The board is expected to approve a final budget on Wednesday that probably will face additional cuts later, district officials said.
School Board Vice President Carolyn Edwards, who is up for re-election this year, said Rogers' supporters are getting ahead of themselves.
"All this speculation and push to do something (that) I don't know we need to do is premature," Edwards said.
The board is not expected to hire a search firm until June 1. The consultant will advise the School Board on June 9 on a timeline for identifying candidates.
"Let's say the search firm says we can have a highly qualified, exemplary superintendent by Oct. 1, then I don't think we're going to need an interim (superintendent)," Edwards said.
But, she said, "if (the consultant says) we can't get a superintendent in here before June 1, 2011, we're probably going to need to hire an interim because I don't think Walt will stay a year from June."
Three of the School Board seats will be decided in the November election, and many candidates support the idea of an interim superintendent.
Kamau Bakari, a candidate for District G who considers himself a Tea Party activist, said he likes the "idea of (Rogers) coming out of the private sector."
Martin Dupalo, another candidate for District G and a Rogers supporter, said it would be unfair to the new superintendent to be hired by the current board because it's about to "change real quick."
But Edwards said the board has to do its job now.
"I was running for office when they were hiring Walt (Rulffes)," she said. "I didn't tell them they should wait until I got in there. It's our job now to do now, and why would we put the district in limbo? It doesn't make sense to me."
Contact reporter James Haug at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-374-7917.