Updated January 28, 2022 - 6:57 am
The Clark County School Board decided Thursday night to appoint a trustee to a state subcommittee that’s looking into compliance with a school district reorganization law.
The board voted 4-3 to appoint Lisa Guzman to the State Board of Education’s reorganization subcommittee. Trustees Evelyn Garcia Morales, Katie Williams and Lola Brooks opposed the motion.
The 2017 reorganization measure, which was passed by the state Legislature, aims to give more control to schools within the district — the nation’s fifth largest, with more than 300,000 students — in areas such as staffing and budgeting.
The state board and School Board held a joint meeting in September related to implementation. And the state has held meetings since then to look at compliance issues.
School Board President Irene Cepeda told fellow trustees Thursday that she asked for the agenda item because the board hasn’t talked about compliance monitoring.
Superintendent Jesus Jara thanked the board for bringing the item forward, noting there is an effort by himself and staff to make sure the district is in compliance.
The district is moving forward and, although it’s not where it wants to be, he said, it will get there.
During a meeting last week, the state board took three actions related to the reorganization law: creating a slot on its Assembly Bill 469 subcommittee for a School Board trustee, allowing the subcommittee to work with the State Department of Education to look at national practices for addressing noncompliance and sending definitions of key terms back to the subcommittee for clarification.
In a written public comment to the state board earlier this month — which Cepeda said was submitted on behalf of the School Board’s three officers — she thanked the board for its collaboration in resolving issues related to the reorganization law.
It has been a hectic couple of years for school districts across the nation including Clark County, she said, but noted the School Board recognizes the importance of bringing the district into compliance and is working with the superintendent to address the issues.
State board President Felicia Ortiz said during the meeting last week that some of the potential consequences of noncompliance in the toolbox are giving people pause, “but it has been five years now.”
She said it’s time to really start talking about the consequences for not implementing the law “with fidelity.”
During the Thursday School Board meeting, trustees Linda Cavazos and Guzman both asked questions about how the topic of appointing a board member to the state’s subcommittee arose.
Brooks said she spoke with the state board’s president to ask if it was possible for a member of the school board join the subcommittee due to a breakdown in communication since the joint meeting.
Trustee Danielle Ford said she was content with the concept of appointing a trustee to the subcommittee. But she said she was feeling a lot of negative energy as the discussion unfolded about the process, noting she didn’t know if the board should move forward with the item right now given how it was done.
During their Thursday meeting, multiple trustees expressed that they wanted to receive training regarding the reorganization law.
Williams asked the district’s Chief Strategy Officer Kellie Ballard what responses she has received from the state board after she expressed concerns about certain items outlined in the reorganization law that conflict with other laws.
Ballard said that she believes the state board is frustrated with the school district’s implementation and that at least one or two members openly don’t agree with motivations the district has stated for its recent actions.
Guzman said she watched the subcommittee’s recent meeting, and there were interesting things that arose that the state says the district hasn’t complied with. She asked for more details.
Three of five items were essentially one point of compliance that deals with a principal’s authority to select staff for their school, Ballard said.
The school district is actively negotiating with employee bargaining units, she said, noting she can’t put a timeline on parties reaching an agreement on those challenging issues.
Brooks said her opinion is the district and school board has been “a little bit lax” in resolving issues with the reorganization law, and she’d like the board to be kept better up to date about the conversations happening at the state level.
Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.