An embattled Clark County School District administrator is alleging in a lawsuit that he faced retaliation after complaining to state authorities about former Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky’s actions.
Edward Goldman, associate superintendent of the Employee-Management Relations Department who was told to work from home pending an investigation into allegations about his on-the-job behavior, makes a series of wide-ranging claims in the lawsuit against the district, Skorkowsky, two School Board members and others.
Among other claims, it alleges that Skorkowsky cost the district approximately $19 million by failing to appeal a 2017 arbitration decision for administrators, even though the School Board initially voted unanimously to fight it.
Skorkowsky gained thousands of dollars in salary due to the ruling, but did not disclose the financial gain, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in District Court in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
Goldman filed an ethics complaint on that matter with the Nevada Commission on Ethics in June, the lawsuit states. He also filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office after Skorkowsky failed to declare an impasse in separate negotiations with the teachers union.
“His failure to declare an ‘impasse’ was due to an improper relationship and improper discussion that Defendant Skorkowsky would have with John Vellardita, the highest-ranking and executive director of the (Clark County Education Association) union,” the complaint states.
The teachers’ union didn’t put forward a financial proposal after eight negotiation sessions, according to the lawsuit. That meant the district could have avoided arbitration over financial matters if it declared an impasse at that point, it said.
The failure to declare an impasse ultimately cost the district $13 million for the 2017-18 school year and at least $34 million for 2018-19, the complaint states.
The ethics commission declined to comment, saying it does not confirm whether a complaint has been filed or is under investigation until the investigation is complete. The attorney general’s office also would not comment on similar grounds.
Goldman, reached by phone, also declined to comment.
The lawsuit also claims that Skorkowsky, Trustees Deanna Wright and Carolyn Edwards and former school district general counsel Carlos McDade conspired to embarrass and defame Goldman.
“Defendants, and specifically defendants CCSD, Skorkowsky, Edwards, McDade and Deanna Wright, took it upon themselves and conspired to create a hostile work environment for Dr. Goldman, to harass, embarrass and defame Dr. Goldman because of his age, him being disabled, and him being Jewish,” the complaint states.
The complaint also takes aim at Wright’s husband, Jason Wright, who is accused of receiving preferential treatment as the spouse of the School Board president.
The Review-Journal previously reported that Skorkowsky directed the human resources department to allow Jason Wright into a teacher preparation program, despite the department’s recommendation that he be rejected. The intervention came after it also was reported that Jason Wright, now a teacher, was transferred to another school after a student alleged that he kicked his finger.
Wright’s actions, the lawsuit states, “indicate that she is willing to prioritize getting her husband a job within a CCSD school over the safety of schoolchildren.”
Goldman also claims that the district attempted to pay him “hush money” in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement, “likely to conceal allegations of misconduct by the CCSD Board of Trustees, defendants and Jason Wright.”
District spokeswoman Kirsten Searer said the district would offer no comment on pending litigation.
Skorkowsky and Edwards did not return calls for comment. Wright offered no comment, saying in a text message that she had not seen the lawsuit. McDade could not be reached for comment.
Denial of letter
The investigation of Goldman was sparked by a letter that former employee Donald “Doc” Harris, who also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, sent to the School Board in April alleging that the Employee-Management Relations Department engaged in rampant favoritism and discrimination under Goldman.
Goldman rebutted a number of those allegations in the lawsuit, claiming Harris’ letter was itself retaliation. He also accused Harris of trying to defraud the district by converting vacation days to paid sick leave days for a profit of roughly $65,000.
The complaint accuses Skorkowsky, Wright and/or Edwards of prodding Harris to write the letter. Harris denied that on Wednesday.
“When I do something, I don’t tell anybody about it,” he said.
Harris said he still stands by nearly everything he wrote in the letter.
He also argued that he did not request $65,000 worth of sick days and said Goldman had approved other such requests before. He believes Goldman did not approve his request because he is black.
“I can tell you right now, I hope he has a lot of money to defend all this,” Harris said.
Alleged smear campaign against Child
Edward Goldman’s lawsuit also contains an allegation that Trustee Kevin Child was the target of a smear campaign by several of the defendants.
“Defendants (Carolyn) Edwards, Deanna Wright and (Pat) Skorkowsky conspired and continue to conspire to defame and run a ‘smear campaign’ against Trustee Kevin Child for Trustee Child demanding financial transparency from defendants,” it said.
Child, who is seeking re-election amid a long-running controversy over his history of causing problems at schools and with school district employees, was ultimately banned from schools and most other district facilities by Skorkowsky. He has denied the allegations and made similar accusations to those in Goldman’s lawsuit.