Las Vegas Sun

May 24, 2019

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District airs gaps in audit

Records tampering, violations of state and federal laws and management overriding staff decisions are among the allegations in 15 paragraphs deleted from the Clark County School District's special education audit.

Bill Hoff man, the school district's attorney, said Monday that lawyers are still in the process of reviewing the issues.

The School Board, however, voted Friday to allow the attorneys to discuss the missing information in general terms with the media.

Much of the content -- some of it in greater detail -- already was reported in the SUN on June 3.

Hoffman gave this account of the passages deleted from the 140-page audit report:

* PAGE 30: Information regarding three due process cases. "This paragraph describes three cases sort of anecdotally," Hoffman said. "The problem is that I think we know who they're talking about. It alleges management either changed records or disregarded advice of the professionals. It also talks about the reasons that those decisions were made.

"There are a couple of problems with that. One thing is that you can't talk about a specific kid. They're not identified by name, but we're concerned about those allegations."

* PAGE 31: Alleges that transportation in rural areas is not being provided properly. "We're looking into whether or not that's true," Hoffman said.

* PAGE 32: Alleges that children in rural areas are not receiving counseling services. "We've pretty much solved that one. Once we get a good review of this issue, we'll release (the paragraph) on this one."

* PAGE 35: "There is one sentence that basically alleges violations of state and federal regulations. We want to find out what that's all about."

* PAGE 45: Alleges that someone in management either changed a student's records or had records "dummied up." Also alleges retaliation against some of the individuals who were aware of the incident.

* PAGES 49-50: Alleges adaptive physical education is not being provided in a legal manner throughout the district. "It really goes to whether or not the teachers are certified, which is going to be a pretty easy one to look at," Hoffman said. "The service is being provided, but not by the appropriate people."

* PAGE 52: Alleges that management has been changing staff decisions and "failing to respond to a clear request for help and change for families."

* PAGE 57: A one-sentence allegation that the reviewers provided documentation of violation of children's rights, but that nothing was done about it. "We don't know exactly what they are talking about," Hoffman said.

* PAGE 68: "This is a continuation of the adaptive physical education issue," he said. "The current practice presents legal questions for CCSD."

Attorneys for the School Board and the district have maintained that information dealing with pending lawsuits and personnel matters could be held from the public until the lawsuits are settled or the allegations against personnel are looked into by the district.

School Board members received the unabridged version of the audit report on May 30. Edited copies were made available to the public the next day.

Besides the deleted information, the audit recommends a restructuring of the special ed division at a savings of $1.2 million a year.

Attorneys, including Hoffman and Johnnie Rawlinson, an assistant district attorney who is legal counsel to the School Board, have been investigating the allegations since they received the document last month. Charles Weatherly, an Atlanta-based attorney, acted as a legal consultant to the auditors.

"We (Hoffman, Rawlinson and Weatherly) all read the report independently, and said, 'Oh, these are things we need to discuss,'" Hoffman said. "These 15 paragraphs contained things we wanted to look into before we published them. We wanted to find out, is it true? Who were they talking about?"

Rawlinson was directed by the board Friday to begin her investigation of the information in question, and have a report ready for the June 26 School Board meeting. It is anticipated that the 15 paragraphs will be released to the public at the meeting.

Auditors Ed Sontag and David Rostetter also plan to attend the meeting.

"We want to find out what in the world they're talking about," Hoffman said. "They make general allegations of violations of the law, for example, and we don't know what they're talking about."