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Chancellor’s complaint of hostile work environment to be investigated

Updated October 15, 2021 - 7:02 pm

An independent third party will lead an investigation into the Nevada System of Higher Education chancellor’s hostile work environment complaint.

Board of Regents Chair Cathy McAdoo and Vice Chair Patrick Carter, both of whom were accused by Chancellor Melody Rose of creating the hostile work environment, confirmed the investigation in a joint statement Friday — their first public comment since Rose’s complaint surfaced early last week.

“The Board of Regents takes all complaints seriously, and is committed to having a thorough investigation conducted,” McAdoo and Carter wrote. “An independent third party has been engaged to lead that investigation, which involves confidential personnel matters.”

The statement did not identify the entity that will conduct the investigation and said the board can’t offer further comment while the investigation is in progress.

Rose, who started on the job in September 2020, submitted a 21-page memorandum dated Oct. 4 to NSHE’s Chief General Counsel Joe Reynolds outlining allegations against McAdoo and Carter.

Memo alleged ‘abusive treatment’

In the memo, Rose alleged she has experienced “abusive treatment” since late June, when McAdoo and Carter assumed board leadership roles. They began in those positions July 1 and are slated to serve through July 30, 2022.

She also stated that both officials repeatedly sought to undermine her authority and engaged in “a shocking series of secret decisions and abuses of power.”

The state’s higher education system oversees eight colleges, including four in Southern Nevada, serving more than 100,000 students.

An NSHE spokesman said Friday the higher education system can’t comment on personnel matters. The Nevada attorney general’s office said it had not received a formal complaint from Rose as of Friday.

Regent Amy Carvalho, whose district stretches from Paradise to Boulder City, is calling for a special session and an investigation into Rose’s complaint.

“I am in support of an investigation of Chancellor Rose’s complaint,” said in a Thursday night statement to the Review-Journal. “I believe it would be incumbent upon any employer to do so in this situation.”

Regent John Moran, whose district encompasses much of the northwest Las Vegas Valley, has called for a special session to vote on whether McAdoo and Carter should be removed from their officer positions. He has not responded to multiple inquires from the Review-Journal.

Calls for special session

In her statement, Carvalho said she can’t speak to Moran’s actions, but she has contacted the board’s chief of staff to request a special meeting “to discuss options for conducting board business during the course of the investigation.”

“In my view, it’s not proper to expect all parties in this complaint to continue to conduct business ‘as usual’ at this time,” she said.

According to the Board of Regents handbook, there are two ways that a special session on the matter could be convened:

■ The board chair — or in that individual’s absence, the vice chair — can order one. That means McAdoo, whose district includes part of Clark County with mostly rural Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lincoln, Nye and White Pine counties, or Carter, who serves southern Clark County on the board, would have to agree to such a session.

■ If at least five regents sign a petition and submit it to the board’s chief of staff, that also would trigger a special session.

The Review-Journal has reached out to all 13 regents via email for comment on whether they support the calls for a meeting to publicly discuss the matter.

Patrick Boylan, who represents Clark County, said Friday via email he’s in favor of calling a special session to take care of board business but opposed to removing the board’s elected officers. “I think all complaints should be investigated in higher education,” he said.

Regents Jason Geddes, who represents Pershing and Washoe counties, and Joe Arrascada, who represents Washoe County, both said via email Friday they won’t comment until the investigation is complete.

‘Advised not to comment’

Regent Laura Perkins, who represents north-central Clark County, said via email: “I believe in due process. There will be an investigation which will be as transparent as possible considering it is a personnel issue. Because of the investigation, I was advised not to comment.”

Regent Carol Del Carlo responded Friday to a Review-Journal inquiry, but wasn’t available to comment. She represents Carson City and Churchill, Douglas, Esmeralda, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Storey and Washoe counties.

The remaining regents — Byron Brooks, Mark Doubrava, Donald Sylvantee McMichael Sr., Moran and former Las Vegas City Councilwoman Lois Tarkanian — did not respond to the request for comment. They all represent portions of Clark County.

A few recent board meetings have been canceled or postponed: a Friday special meeting, a chief of staff and special counsel search committee meeting on Oct. 21 and an Oct. 22 special meeting.

As of Friday, the next regularly scheduled board meeting was set for Dec. 2-3.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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