Nevada charter authority board submits names to Governor for next leader

Three familiar names in Nevada education circles were sent to the governor Tuesday to be considered for the executive director post of the State Public Charter School Authority.

The names selected by the authority’s board of directors come with a caveat, though: It made clear in a letter that it believes Gov. Brian Sandoval should retain current Executive Director Patrick Gavin.

The selection process was mandated by a law passed this spring that required the board to submit three names to the governor and gave him discretion to choose the authority’s top executive.

“I just ask for some forgiveness in regards to the awkwardness of this conversation,” board Chairman Jason Guinasso said at the outset of the meeting. “We have a current executive director filing this position in Patrick Gavin, and he is doing a good job in his role as executive director, and I don’t see any reason to replace him, but the law requires that we send three names to the governor.”

The same process is used to choose the state superintendent of instruction.

After the meeting, Gavin said he appreciated the board’s support.

“But I’m also encouraged that each of the individuals who were nominated could ably do this job, and I look forward to the governor’s decision,” he said.

The two other names sent to the governor are Brett Barley, a deputy superintendent in the Nevada Department of Education, and Jana Wilcox Lavin, the acting executive director of Opportunity 180, an education nonprofit.

Wilcox Lavin said she considered it “an honor to be nominated for the position with the SPCSA, however my current focus is on leading Opportunity 180 to ensure more students in our highest-need neighborhoods are in a high-quality public school seat.”

Barley said, “I am deeply flattered that the SPCSA board would think of me for that position but I love my job with the Nevada Department of Education and there is still much work to do. … I’m passionate about that work and believe I’m best able to help achieve that goal in my current role.”

Guinasso had floated five names before the board for consideration. The candidates were not asked to submit applications or other information ahead of time, Guinasso said.

In addition to the three candidates forwarded to the governor, Guinasso had selected Jonathan Hawk, the chief operations officer of Nevada State High School, a charter school, and Melissa Mackedon, a current member of the charter authority board.

Despite the honor, Mackedon said the role was not one she was interested in at the time and removed herself from the list.

“I appreciate the vote of Chair Guinasso for sure,” she said.

It was not immediately clear when Sandoval would act on the candidate list.

Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281 or Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.

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