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Judge dismisses case against teachers union official

Updated January 29, 2024 - 1:24 pm

A judge on Monday dismissed charges against a Las Vegas elementary school teacher and union official who was removed from a school board meeting amid protests over contract negotiations.

Kristan Nigro, a kindergarten teacher at Schorr Elementary School and Clark County Education Association executive board member, faced a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace after an August meeting of the Clark County School Board.

On Monday, Justice of the Peace Amy Chelini granted a motion to dismiss.

Nigro’s attorneys argued in court papers that a citation issued by the Clark County School District Police Department did not provide “adequate notice” to Nigro of “essential facts that satisfy the crime” with which she was charged.

Nigro’s lawyers also argued that she was cited under a statute that’s “unconstitutionally overbroad and therefore violates the First Amendment.”

Chelini said Monday that she decided to throw out the charge because of the lack of notice.

Nigro’s attorney appeared via videoconference for the hearing. There was no opposition from prosecutors to the motion to dismiss.

Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada — which represented Nigro — filed two motions to dismiss: one for lack of notice and another alleging First Amendment violations.

Chelini said that when she looks at Nigro’s citation, the language indicates disturbing the peace at a Clark County School Board meeting.

“Well, how?” she asked. “I don’t know what the facts are,” contemplating whether the teacher was complaining about the “insultingly low pay” or oversized classes.

“If you can’t get a little upset at a school board meeting, I don’t know where you can, given the condition of what’s going on,” Chelini said.

Nigro is among two teachers who were cited after police removed them in handcuffs from a school board meeting where teachers union members were protesting amid contentious contract negotiations.

ACLU of Nevada staff attorney Jacob Smith said in a Monday statement to the Las Vegas Review-Journal: “Neither of our clients should have been cuffed and removed from a CCSD board meeting, and we’re glad to see these defective citations dismissed. Teachers should not have to fear criminal prosecution when advocating for themselves.”

The teachers union said in a Monday statement to the Review-Journal: “Kristan Nigro exercised her First Amendment rights and her arrest was an overreaction by CCSD to stifle teachers’ rights to speak out. Dismissing the charges was the right thing to do.”

Nigro pleaded not guilty to the charge in November.

A different judge dismissed a case earlier this month against the other teacher — Aramis Bacallao, an English language arts teacher at Becker Middle School — who was removed from the same board meeting. He also was represented by the ACLU of Nevada.

The school district declared an impasse in bargaining with the teachers union in September after 11 negotiation sessions over about six months.

Union members held protests at school board meetings and in front of school campuses beginning over the summer.

An arbitrator approved an agreement in December between the school district and union. The school board voted Thursday to approve it.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com. Follow @julieswootton on X.

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