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Judges set trials for teachers arrested at school board meeting

Updated November 22, 2023 - 3:57 pm

Two Clark County teachers facing a misdemeanor charge after being removed by police from a School Board meeting could face trials early next year.

The teachers, each facing a charge of disturbing the peace, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in separate court hearings.

Judges set trials early next year for Aramis Bacallao, an English language arts teacher at Becker Middle School, and Kristan Nigro, a kindergarten teacher at Schorr Elementary School and a Clark County Education Association executive board member.

During a hearing for Nigro, Deputy District Attorney Brian Casper told Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Amy Chelini that he would seek jail time for her misdemeanor charge, which can include up to six months in jail, a fine of $1,000 or both, according to Nevada law.

But the district attorney’s office later clarified that prosecutors would not seek to put either teacher behind bars.

Prosecutors had offered Bacallao a pretrial diversion program to avoid jail and a conviction, but his lawyer, American Civil Liberties Union legal representative Chris Peterson, told Justice of the Peace Diana Sullivan that Bacallao had declined the offer. It was unclear whether prosecutors also would seek jail time for Bacallao.

After the hearing, Peterson said that his client would not be making a comment and “we simply want to say that the ACLU is very concerned about First Amendment issues related to this case is part of the reason we’re taking it on.”

Nigro, who declined comment after the hearing, is also being represented by the ACLU.

At the Aug. 24 School Board meeting, teachers union members packed the meeting room yelling and chanting amid contentious collective bargaining.

Police removed three teachers — Bacallao, Nigro and Clark County Education Association Vice President Jim Frazee — from the room after they refused to leave. Bacallao and Nigro were handcuffed.

In September, the school district declared an impasse in contract talks with the union after 11 bargaining sessions since late March. The matter is headed to arbitration.

Union members have held protests since July, including at a “Java with Jara” event, in reference to Clark County School District Superintendent Jesus Jara, outside school campuses and at School Board meetings. Students at a handful of high schools have organized walkouts.

In September, a district judge ruled that a teacher strike had occurred and ordered a preliminary injunction following sickouts that closed eight school district campuses for one day each.

The union has denied any involvement and has an appeal before the Nevada Supreme Court.

This story has been updated to clarify the prosecutor’s position on possible punishment for Nigro.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow @JeffBurbank2 on X. Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com. Follow @julieswootton on X.

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