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Investigation of CCSD official Goldman halts after $50K spent

Updated February 6, 2019 - 11:55 pm

The Clark County School District spent more than $50,000 investigating Associate Superintendent Edward Goldman in connection with discrimination allegations and other issues before suspending the independent external probe, records obtained by the Review-Journal show.

It is not clear why the external investigation into the actions of the former head of the district’s Employee Management Relations Department was halted. Goldman sued the district shortly after he was ordered to work from home in June while the investigation proceeded.

The investigation was prompted by a letter that former employee Donald “Doc” Harris sent to the School Board in April alleging that Goldman had effectively run the school district by collecting and leveraging sensitive information about his colleagues.

The letter also alleged that Goldman’s department engaged in rampant favoritism and discrimination.

The district announced later that month that it would hire Robert Freeman, an attorney at the Las Vegas offices of the Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith law firm, to investigate the allegations.

Invoices obtained by the Review-Journal show that the district spent a total of $58,357 from May to November. The School Board approved the expenditure in June, voting to pay Freeman at a rate of $190 per hour.

On payroll but unable to work

Meanwhile, Goldman has remained on the district’s payroll since former Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky assigned him to work from home in June. However, access to his work calendar and email have been cut off, so he has been unable to do any work during that time, according to a court filing.

It is not known whether Goldman will have a job in new Superintendent’s Jesus Jara’s administration, as the district’s central office has been reorganized since his departure.

Goldman’s amended lawsuit against the district, Skorkowsky and other district officials alleges they retaliated and defamed him after he complained to state officials about several actions taken by the former superintendent. It also alleges that the investigation was not intended to uncover any misconduct.

“Essentially, the district spent a vast amount of money on an investigation to confirm that all of the allegations against Dr. Goldman in the Harris letter were false, which the district (and specifically defendant Skorkowsky) knew from the onset,” the complaint said.

It also said that Goldman was scheduled to speak to Freeman in October, but the interview was abruptly canceled a few days beforehand.

The investigator ceased his work that same month at the direction of the district’s legal counsel, according to the complaint.

District officials — including Jara, who is named in Goldman’s amended lawsuit — declined to comment on the matter, citing the pending litigation. Freeman did not return a call seeking comment.

But former Trustee Carolyn Edwards confirmed the investigation stopped. She said she was not sure when that occurred.

School Board President Lola Brooks said she did not know why the investigation had stopped, adding that she had not been recently briefed on the matter.

‘Never issued a report’

Goldman referred questions on the lawsuit to his attorney, Martin Kravitz.

“What disturbs me is the idea that $50,000 was spent and Eddie offered to go meet with the investigator and they canceled the meeting and never issued a report,” Kravitz said.

After Harris’ letter spread through the district’s rank and file, Goldman filed complaints with the Nevada Commission on Ethics and the attorney general’s office last June.

The day that Goldman was assigned to work from home, he filed a complaint with the Ethics Commission alleging that Skorkowsky unjustly enriched himself by failing to appeal a $19 million arbitration award to administrators.

The commission has declined to comment, saying it can neither confirm nor deny whether an investigation into the matter is ongoing.

Goldman also filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office, alleging that Skorkowsky failed to declare an impasse in bargaining with the teachers’ union, resulting in a $13 million award to the teachers that contributed to the district’s second consecutive budget deficit.

The AG’s office dismissed the matter, arguing that that action was not a false claim as he suggested.

Goldman’s lawsuit also names trustees Deanna Wright and Carolyn Edwards, whom it accuses of conspiring to defame him. It also accuses the two trustees of leaking information to the Review-Journal regarding Goldman’s assignment to work from home.

“Dr. Goldman’s reputation has been ruined, and there is no way to ‘unring the bell’ regarding defendants’ portrayal in the media of Dr. Goldman as someone warranting being assigned to work from home,” the complaint said.

The district also has hired the investigator to look into the hiring of Wright’s husband, Jason Wright, who is accused of battering students and faces two separate lawsuits arising from his conduct as a teacher at Harris Elementary.

The district has spent $8,468 on that investigation from July to November, records show. It is unclear whether that investigation is still ongoing.

Deanna Wright did not return a call for comment, and Edwards declined to comment.

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

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