It took four years of cover-ups and two students alleging physical assaults, but the Clark County School District is finally doing the right thing about Jason Wright. On Thursday, the trustees announced the hiring of an independent investigator to look into “all aspects” of his employment.
There’s a lot to look into.
Wright is a district teacher and husband of School Board president Deanna Wright. In 2014, the district’s HR department recommended not accepting Jason Wright into the Alternative Routes to Licensure program. Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky personally overruled HR, but won’t say why. During this school year, two fifth-graders accused Wright, then a fifth-grade teacher at Harris Elementary School, of hurting them.
One student, Ra’Naih Sanders, said Wright hit her with a desk in October 2017. In March, another student, Jayden Zelaya-Ramos, said Wright kicked him in the hand and grabbed him by the shirt collar.
The investigator should start by looking at Skorkowsky’s initial intervention. How many other times has he overruled HR? Did HR normally ask the superintendent about rejected candidates, or was everyone paying special attention to Wright because of his spouse?
Hazy recollections aren’t enough. This investigation must rely on firm documentation such as email messages or memos. That hard evidence will show if this was part of a pattern or if Skorkowsky made a special exception for his boss’s husband.
In May 2016, the district sent a letter about Wright’s potential employment to the Nevada Department of Education, as required by state law. “Human Resources completes a thorough vetting of all potential hires,” wrote Andre Long, co-interim chief human resources officer. Did the district deceive the state Education Department by not mentioning that circumvented HR’s vetting?
Moving on to the desk-throwing incident. Why didn’t the principal call school district police? Who did the principal call? Why didn’t that person tell him to call the police? Were trustees notified? If not, why? Why didn’t anyone ever follow up with Ra’Niah’s mom after she talked with the principal?
District police did investigate the kicking incident. Did Trustee Wright ever talk with the cops investigating the incident? Did anyone pressure or influence the investigating officer? Jason Wright’s statement reads like a lawyer wrote it. Did a district attorney pen it?
After district police declined to press charges, the district had an internal investigatory hearing on the incident. There are persistent rumblings that deputy superintendent Kim Wooden attended that meeting with Jason Wright, which would be highly unusual. District communications chief Kirsten Searer said to “ask Ms. Wooden why she attended the meeting.” Wooden didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Why was the No. 2 person in the district at a teacher disciplinary meeting? How did she even find out about the meeting? Did Skorkowsky direct her to attend?
If Wooden’s presence is confirmed, which an investigator can easily do, that would create another level of impropriety. In March, Trustee Wright cast the deciding vote in reconfiguring Wooden’s contract after Wooden accused Trustee Kevin Child of harassment.
Finally, who directed the district communications office to send to the media a CPS letter addressed to Jason Wright’s home? How much taxpayer-funded PR work have they done for him?
After four years of district dishonesty, it’s time for the truth.
Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.