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CCSD trustees refile lawsuit over state-mandated reorganization

Updated March 1, 2017 - 5:35 pm

The Clark County School Board voted Wednesday to refile its lawsuit over the district’s mandated reorganization, a move likely to set in motion a replay of the entire litigation process with roughly 153 days left until the overhaul must be completed.

The 5-0 vote comes after the state attorney general’s office — and later the Nevada Legislature — opposed the lawsuit, arguing in part that trustees violated open meeting law by authorizing it behind closed doors.

Trustees Erin Cranor and Carolyn Edwards were absent for the vote.

A district spokesperson said the lawsuit will be the same as the one the board had previously filed in Carson City District Court in December. The litigation takes issue with certain provisions of the reorganization law, which will decentralize the massive school district and give more power to schools.

Vice President Linda Young said after the meeting that the bottom line with trustees is not about power, but supporting students.


 


“The Legislature and the state department and state board only targeted the Clark County School District,” Young said. “We are not the whole state. There are 16 other school districts and if you need to improve education, you have to improve education throughout the whole state.”

The refiling of the lawsuit against the state Department of Education and state Board of Education is likely to start a replay of what has happened so far in court. The attorney general’s office has filed its opposition. Lawmakers followed suit, joining as a defendant because the lawsuit challenges the laws and policies of the state Legislature.

The case outlines a number of issues the board has had with the overhaul, including the requirement to split funding 80-20 between schools and central services. The board also raised raised concern over the need for a weighted funding formula, which will assign more money to certain categories of students.

Trustee Chris Garvey said after the meeting that the lawsuit is about real issues that affect children in a profound way.

“Everything is a public document from the moment we filed, and will be again, and so there is no lack of transparency,” she said. “It’s spelled out in fine detail, what are the issues. And they’re the issues that we’ve been talking about since last year.”

She questioned who in the state Legislature is intervening in the lawsuit.

Sen. Michael Roberson authorized the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s legal division to intervene in the matter, according to Kevin Powers, the bureau’s chief litigation counsel.

Powers previously explained that Roberson has that authority as chair of the Legislative Commission, arguing that action was required before the next Legislative Commission meeting since the litigation was time-sensitive.

Roberson has not returned a call for comment.

CONCERN OVER PROCESS

Henderson parent Crystal Hendrickson took issue with a lack of discussion before trustees voted on the lawsuit, which was included as an item on the consent agenda.

“Obviously the lawsuit was once again discussed behind public doors, outside the public eye,” she said. “Nobody knows what’s involved in the lawsuit, what the lawsuit would look like.”

Hendrickson is among a group of parents at Newton Elementary School who are upset that the school could not keep its current principal, Steven Niemeier, even though he had support from parents.

“It’s obvious to everyone that this is a feeble effort to hold on to power and it shows Southern Nevada that it’s not about the kids,” she said. “It’s about you retaining your power.”

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at 702-383-4630 or apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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