If the Clark County School District’s human resources department had gotten its way, Jason Wright, the teacher accused of kicking a student, never would have been a teacher.
Jason Wright, however, is the husband of Trustee Deanna Wright, who’s now School Board president. A district source, who asked not to be identified because the source is not authorized to speak on the matter, said Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky intervened in the fall of 2014 to move Wright’s application forward.
“The HR department originally said Jason Wright shouldn’t be allowed into the ARL (Alternative Routes to Licensure) program based on his past performance with the school district,” the source said. Jason Wright previously did clerical work for the district, according to Transparent Nevada salary records. “They were overruled by Pat Skorkowsky, and Jason entered the high school ARL program. He failed to pass the math test multiple times and had to transfer to a different program to get his license.”
The ARL program allows individuals with college degrees outside of education to obtain a teaching license without going back to school. It’s a great program, unless the superintendent uses it to hand out jobs based on political connections, not qualifications.
Transparent Nevada shows Jason Wright started working as a fifth-grade teacher last school year thanks to the ARL program. This school year, he taught at Harris Elementary School. On March 7, Jayden Celaya-Ramos, a fifth-grade student, said Jason Wright kicked him. The kick left the boy’s pinkie finger “swollen and bruised,” according to a police report. Despite other students corroborating Jayden’s story, police declined to press charges after Wright claimed he thought Jayden was picking up a bee.
The school district has yet to address the many questions this story raised, including questions directly asked to its communications office. Was Jason Wright involved in any other violent incidents? Did Trustee Wright ever talk with the officers, who were both her subordinates and weighing criminal charges against her husband? How did the district protect its cops from intimidation?
Now there are more dots to connect. Skorkowsky directly intervened to get his boss’ spouse a job almost four years ago. Trustee Wright has been a strong supporter and ally of Skorkowsky on the School Board. She was one of five trustees invited to attend his retirement announcement.
Those are all the elements needed for a textbook case of quid pro quo. At the very least, this compromised Trustee Wright’s ability to exercise independent authority over Skorkowsky. That’s her job as a trustee.
There are more oddities. District communications chief Kirsten Searer sent over a letter from Child Protective Services addressed to Jason Wright at his home address. The letter, dated April 20, says CPS writes “to inform you of this agency’s disposition involving the above-named minor child(ren).” The letter lists no children, but says it closed the report with “a disposition of Unsubstantiated.”
Asked to verify that the letter involved Jayden, Searer said she wasn’t “sure why” the letter didn’t include the child’s name. Even if the letter is about Jayden, it raises another question the district didn’t answer. Why is the district’s communications shop doing PR work for one specific teacher?
Oh, right. He’s married to the School Board president. That’s become a theme around here.
Victor Joecks’ column appears 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.