Nevada charter authority board says executive kept them in dark

Updated December 3, 2018 - 11:31 pm

Members of the State Public Charter School Authority board say they were kept in the dark by the agency’s executive director about its operations, providing further insight into tensions that might have contributed to his resignation.

Board Chairman Jason Guinasso said that authority Executive Director Patrick Gavin failed to communicate with the board in a regard to a number of concerns raised by legislators at an Oct. 24 meeting of the Interim Finance Committee.

The list of concerns included the fact that authority staff were not conducting evaluative site visits to state charter schools — despite the Legislature’s approval of four new positions in 2017 to help with the workload. The matter came to light after an authority staffer stated that schools were going to determine how they would be evaluated.

As a result, according to the response approved Friday by the authority board, the legislators were left with the impression that the authority had “gone rogue and was failing to provide proper oversight to the schools.”

The staffer also “inexplicably blamed” the board for failing to conduct site visits, it said.

In fact, the letter said, the board was “never informed that staff was not doing ‘site visits’ … and has not reviewed or approved a ‘site visit protocol.’” It also denied that the schools would determine how they would be evaluated.

While clarifying a number of other statements made in the presentation, the letter also assured legislators that the authority will take immediate steps to address their concerns.

“Whether we had knowledge of what was communicated to the (Interim Finance Committee) or not does not absolve us from being accountable … regarding the work the authority is doing with the public money provided to fund key positions to get the work done,” it said.

Politics at play?

Meanwhile, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers is pushing back against a letter sent last week by a political rival asking the Nevada attorney general’s office to investigate whether Gavin violated state law.

The letter from the National Coalition for Public School Choice, which lobbies on behalf of online charter schools, said Gavin’s membership and “extensive participation” with the authorizers association was improper.

It noted that he was nominated to the NACSA board while participating in the selection of a vendor contract for business consulting services, which the authority awarded to the NACSA in 2015.

State law requires the executive director of the authority to seek permission from board members before pursuing any other business or occupation.

The NACSA, a membership organization that provides guidance and best practices for state groups that authorize charter schools, said in a statement that the letter contains multiple errors and misrepresentations.

Minutes from an April 2013 meeting of Nevada’s charter authority board also show that members supported the executive director — Steve Canavero, now the state’s superintendent of public education — serving on the NACSA board.

“That membership help(s) all Nevada charter schools keep up to date on model charter law and national best practices,” Chairwoman Kathleen Conaboy said at the time.

It’s unclear whether Gavin also sought approval from the authority board. Guinasso, who was not on the board during Canavero’s tenure at the charter authority, told the Review-Journal last week that he was unaware of Gavin’s NACSA role.

Gavin declined to comment for this story.

But one former authority board member, Elissa Wahl, said members approved both Canavero and Gavin’s involvement with the NACSA.

Others who served on the authority at the time — Conaboy, current member Nora Luna and current vice chair Melissa Mackedon — declined to comment on the letter or other internal issues. Former member Adam Johnson did not return a call for comment.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said it received the letter, but did not confirm whether it will investigate the matter.

Lobbyist for online charters

The PSO is a well-known lobbyist for online schools. It spent over $2 million in 2016 as part of its work “educating policymakers about the need for expanded access to school choice options,” according to the nonprofit’s 2016 IRS filing.

The group says it works to ensure parents’ right to choose the educational option that’s best for their children.

“That’s our mission and we will never back down from that,” PSO spokeswoman Susan Hepworth said in a statement. “When people get caught in unethical and potentially illegal behavior they try to distract, and this is a perfect example.”

The PSO letter to the attorney general’s office came three days before the authority was to consider whether to renew the embattled Nevada Virtual Academy’s middle and high school programs.

But Hepworth said the letter wasn’t timed to boost the school’s chances of renewal or coordinated with the school.

The president of the school’s board of directors also said it did not coordinate with the PSO on the effort.

The online academy, which agreed to close its elementary grades due to poor academics, has had a rocky history with the authority over underperformance. The authority approved its operations renewal with stipulations, requiring the middle or high school to close if they earn less than 50 points on the state’s academic performance system for two consecutive years.

The school pushed back on those conditions, arguing that they were unreasonable and excessive.

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

ad-high_impact_4
News
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece. (@FlightAlerts_)
Park Service plans ahead for lower lake levels
National Park Service releases new plans to maintain access to the water as Lake Mead continues to shrink.
Women claim abuse at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility
Current and ex-inmates, including Merry West, are suing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility, claiming abuse and inadequate medical care. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Butte County Sheriff's Office Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video from Butte County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office Deputy Aaron Parmley, who was in Paradise November 8 helping with evacuations. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 106
NDOT construction blasting along State Route 160, near Mt. Potosi Road, in Clark County as part of a $59 million, 6-mile-long highway widening project that began this summer. (Nevada Department of Transportation)
Car crashes into Papa Murphy's Pizza shop
A driver crashed a car into a western Las Vegas Valley pizza shop on Tuesday morning, police said. (Joe Stanhibel/Special to Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Low-lake-level pumping station nears completion
Barnard Construction and the Southern Nevada Water Authority give one last tour before the new low-lake-level pumping station is activated.
Trailer: Valley of Fires
Sultan’s Playroom from Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada
Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada’s Scott Rosenzweig talks about granting Sultan Bouras Souissi’s wish, and what went into building it. (John Hornberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Marsh brings historic replica of rural church to Amargosa Valley
Jim Marsh talks during the opening of the Chapel at Longstreet, a replica of an 1874 Catholic church built in the mining town of Belmont, Nev., at Marsh's Longstreet Casino in Amargosa Valley, Nev. Chase Stevens/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Las Vegas Livestock recycling Strip food waste
Las Vegas Livestock collects and recycles food from many Las Vegas Strip companies. (Nicole Raz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like