The vote to make Interim Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky permanent will be recast, but not because Clark County School Board members feel they violated the open meeting law Tuesday with their spontaneous interview and hire, said board President Carolyn Edwards on Friday.
“We don’t think we did anything wrong,” said Edwards, who plans to hold the new vote on June 3, even though the board attorney advised the interview and vote were legal. “If there is any possibility we violated the open meeting law, the best thing is to do the vote again.”
Critics of the decision raised the possibility of a violation in a Thursday Review-Journal story referencing Nevada Supreme Court cases and Nevada attorney general opinions. At least two open meeting law complaints have been filed since then with the Nevada attorney general’s office.
The revote won’t change what the School Board initially did, said Clark County School District parent Kevinn Donovan, who won’t rescind his complaint because of the new vote.
“The damage is done,” said Donovan. “They should still be held accountable.”
Donovan’s complaint, and at least one other from parent Michael Bluestein, alleges that the Tuesday vote was cast without proper notice being given on the agenda. The School Board acted under a boiler-plate agenda item, “Superintendent Search,” which has been on all nine meeting agendas since the search began. It broadly states the board may take “action regarding all aspects of the search and selection of a new superintendent.”
No indication was given that a superintendent interview and appointment would be made Tuesday.
The attorney general and Nevada Supreme Court have a history of requiring “a higher degree of specificity … when the subject to be debated is of special or significant interest to the public.”
Skorkowsky wouldn’t have been questioned at all before being hired as permanent superintendent if it weren’t for Edwards. When board attorney Mary Ann Peterson said an immediate vote would be legal, Edwards realized she wouldn’t be able to convince fellow board members to wait a few days so the public could be involved, as she had pleaded. So Edwards demanded at least having an interview before a vote.
“I was still uncomfortable,” said Edwards, who ultimately voted in favor of Skorkowsky.
The point of the open meeting law is to prevent governments from hiding actions from the public. That’s why the state’s manual tells elected officials to not use “general or vague language,” and “broad categories” in their agendas if they want to avoid violations.
For all these reasons, government bodies usually interview and appoint leaders under agenda items that specify exactly what will be done, Chief Deputy Attorney General Keith Marcher said.
When the School Board meets at 5:30 p.m. June 3, it will also set the parameters for Skorkowsky’s contract. Former superintendent Dwight Jones earned a salary of $270,000.
Edwards has suggested a $250,000 annual salary for Skorkowsky with an $80,000 bonus if he completes a four-year contract.
Contact reporter Trevon Milliard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0279.