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Clark County superintendent overruled HR staff to aid trustee’s husband

The husband of the Clark County School Board president was not recommended for admission into a teacher preparation program in 2014, but Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky overruled human resources and directed staff to admit him, according to documents obtained by the Review-Journal from a district source.

The documents show that Jason Wright, husband of board President Deanna Wright, applied for the Alternative Routes to Licensure teacher preparation program, but was recommended for rejection by district human resources personnel. The documents point to previous evaluations he received as a support staff employee that said he needed improvement in some areas as well as a written reprimand issued in 2007. The reason for the reprimand was not given.

But after the department reviewed that background with Skorkowsky, he directed employees to allow Wright into the program, the documents show.

In a statement to the Review-Journal, Skorkowsky acknowledged that he directed the HR department to “give Mr. Wright an opportunity to participate in the Alternative Route to Licensure program” but did not respond to questions from the Review-Journal asking why he had done so.

“Without my intervention, Mr. Wright successfully completed the ARL program and passed his tests,” Skorkowsky said. “I also did not intervene in his interview process to be placed in a school.”

Evidence of Skorkowsky’s intervention comes after the Review-Journal revealed that Jason Wright, now a licensed Clark County teacher, was transferred from Harris Elementary School to another school this year after a fifth-grader at Harris accused him of kicking his hand and grabbing his collar. Child Protective Services investigated the allegation but found the complaint was unsubstantiated, according to documentation provided by the district.

The district has said the reassignment was in the best interest of all parties, and that Wright’s position was going to be eliminated regardless.

‘Witch hunt’ alleged

Contacted for comment, Deanna Wright said the leak of information about her husband’s transfer and Skorkowsky’s role in getting him into the ARL program are part of a “witch hunt” in retaliation for her votes for a superintendent to replace the retiring Skorkowsky.

Wright said she received phone calls and texts from people urging her to “vote the right way” just days before the superintendent decision.

“They said things like, ‘They’re releasing your husband’s documents. They’re releasing stuff about your husband,’” she said. “’Make sure you vote the right way.’”

She did not identify the “right” candidate, but appeared to be referring to the district’s chief academic officer, Mike Barton, who enjoyed widespread support inside the system but did not get the job.

Wright also said that neither she nor her husband asked Skorkowsky to intervene on his ARL application.

“I never asked Pat for anything,” she said. “My husband went through the process like everybody else. I have no idea why they would’ve not approved him for (the program). He’s a completely exemplary employee.”

Instead, Wright said she was being blackmailed during the superintendent search and that her family is being used.

“This is absolutely completely nothing but dirty politics at its worst, and my husband should not have to pay for it,” she said, adding that she and her husband have retained a lawyer to deal with the issue.

Wright suggested that the information was spread by Associate Superintendent Edward Goldman and Trustee Kevin Child. Goldman is at the center of a recent investigation into complaints surrounding alleged favoritism and discrimination within the Employee Management Relations department he heads.

Goldman and Child denied any role in leaking the information, although Child said he took the information about Wright’s husband to the district attorney’s office immediately when he found out.

Wright said people are trying to discredit Skorkowsky, who she has strongly supported during her time on the board.

“They’re trying to blacken his record, and they’re using me and my husband to get to him,” she said.

Climate of fear

Trustee Carolyn Edwards referred to pressure tactics during last week’s board meeting to pick the next superintendent, claiming some of her colleagues had been threatened during the process. Edwards, who voted with Wright and Trustees Lola Brooks and Linda Cavazos against Barton’s promotion, said she wasn’t the target of such tactics.

“They don’t have dirt on me to threaten me with,” she said. “They could mine something up, I suppose, but that would be silly on their part. But I think they didn’t think they could sway me.”

But she does believe the information on Jason Wright was released as retaliation, “and that’s part of the climate that needs to change in the district,” she said.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter. Reporter Meghin Delaney contributed to this story.

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