It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.
That’s good advice for job seekers, but it’s a bad way to run the Clark County School District. Unfortunately, there’s mounting evidence that’s what happened with Jason Wright, the husband of School Board president Deanna Wright.
Jason Wright “was not recommended for admission into a teacher preparation program in 2014, but Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky overruled human resources and directed staff to admit him,” reported the Review-Journal’s Amelia Pak-Harvey.
Confronted, Mr. Skorkowsky then acknowledged intervening, but declined to answer questions seeking details.
That’s a mistake. If Mr. Skorkowsky has a valid reason for overruling his own human resources department, he should reveal them. Otherwise, it looks like he was trying to curry favor with one of his bosses. Deanna Wright’s main responsibility as a trustee is to supervise Mr. Skorkowsky. That’s harder to do objectively when he got your husband a job and increased your family’s income. Coincidentally or not, Trustee Wright has been supportive of Mr. Skorkowsky over the past four years.
Did Ms. Wright compromise her ability to exercise independent oversight on issues like budget problems and creating a policy on transgender bathrooms?
Both Mr. Skorkowsky and Trustee Wright also need to tell the public why we are learning about this intervention four years after the fact. At the very least, the public deserved a chance to make this determination during Deanna Wright’s 2016 re-election campaign.
This would all be concerning enough if Jason Wright had turned out to be an exemplary teacher. As the Review-Journal’s Victor Joecks has detailed, however, two of his students have accused him of assaulting them. One said he threw a desk at her, leaving bruises. The other said Wright kicked him in the hand, resulting in a “swollen and bruised” finger, according to a police report.
The district insists that Jason Wright did nothing wrong but moved him to a different school after the second incident. His behavior has left the district vulnerable to lawsuits at the time it can least afford it.
On Thursday, the district announced that it had selected a lawyer to conduct an independent investigation into the situation. That’s a good move, although making that decision behind closed doors runs counter to Nevada’s open meeting law.
With newly hired superintendent Jesus Jara starting next month, it’s imperative for the investigation to be thorough and expedient. Publicize the results and administer appropriate consequences.
Mr. Jara faces many challenges. Having these questions hanging over the district shouldn’t be one of them.