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EDITORIAL: No surprise: Judge raps school board on new policy

A judge paddled the Clark County School Board on the backside Wednesday over the panel’s petulant response to meddling from Carson City. Will the elected trustees take the lesson to heart?

Last year, Nevada lawmakers approved Assembly Bill 175, which expanded the board to include four appointed members. This triggered the seven elected trustees, who protested the interference. While the new blended composition of the panel is no panacea for the district’s many problems, the elected members clearly need all the help that they can get.

But just weeks after the legislation officially became law, the elected trustees moved to undermine it. In January, they voted 5-1 to prevent the new members — appointed one each by Clark County and the cities of Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson — from making motions or asking for reconsideration of a previous vote.

The retaliatory move ran counter to the language of AB175, which states that the appointees — while unable to vote or serve as board officers — shall otherwise “have the same rights and responsibilities as voting members.” That would include offering motions and making reconsideration requests. The bill’s sponsors — one Republican and one Democrat — denounced the School Board’s action and hinted at further legislative proposals next session.

A brief aside: Where are the attorneys who provide legal guidance to the School Board? This gambit was legally dubious, to say the least, and destined to fail. And if trustees ignored the advice of counsel, Clark County voters deserve to have that information.

At any rate, the cities of North Las Vegas and Henderson filed a lawsuit in March challenging the new policy. The filing argued that the “board is exceeding its authority and violating clear Nevada law by restricting the powers of the nonvoting trustees beyond the limits established in AB175.”

On Wednesday, a judge agreed and ordered the board to rescind its policy stifling participation by the appointed trustees. Clark County District Court Judge Nadia Krall determined that the restrictions were in direct conflict with the “clear and unambiguous” language of the statute.

Let’s hope that’s the end of this sorry matter. An appeal would be a waste of time and only flush more public funds down the drain. Rather than fighting petty battles to preserve their fiefdom, the elected trustees should welcome additional input from appointed members and seek to ensure that the new composition of the board works to the benefit of both Southern Nevada taxpayers and Clark County families and their children.

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