Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2017

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School Board head may have purposely shut out CCSD superintendent

Image

Steve Marcus

School Board President Linda Young, center, speaks during a Clark County School Board meeting at the Edward Greer Education Center on East Flamingo Road Wednesday, May 16, 2012.

The head of the Clark County School Board knew the superintendent was going to be on vacation the day she scheduled a controversial meeting to take place.

In fact, she personally signed off on it, according to an internal document obtained by the Sun.

The Nov. 4 document shows that Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky requested vacation time for the entire week of Dec. 19. The request was signed by board President Linda Young five days later. And some of Young’s fellow trustees are saying it’s no coincidence that she planned a special meeting during that week.

“I think it’s in total bad faith,” said Trustee Deanna Wright. “I’m mad as a wet hen.”

Wright’s comments were echoed earlier in the week by Trustee Carolyn Edwards, who will be vacationing in Maryland on Monday but plans to participate by phone.

The Monday meeting, a rare special session that district rules say can only officially be called by the board president, includes a proposal to hire an outside consultant, now revealed to be Caesars Entertainment executive Jan Jones Blackhurst, to serve as a pro-bono “mentor” for the school board on legislation and policy.

The plan appears to be the brainchild of Young and Trustee Chris Garvey. A proposal without Blackhurst’s name on it was discussed last week. It was put on the agenda by Young, and was strongly supported by Garvey.

Neither would admit at the time that Blackhurst had been tapped for the position, despite Skorkowsky bringing to light rumors that a group of trustees had worked with Public Education Foundation President Judi Steele to vet her.

Young and Garvey did not respond to requests for comment Thursday afternoon, and they were the only trustees who didn’t show up to a Wednesday meeting regarding the implementation of the district reorganization.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the plan to appoint Blackhurst has caused considerable controversy. For starters, the district already has its own government affairs team that advocates for its interests and policies before legislators. Secondly, there are concerns that appointing such a consultant could violate Skorkowsky’s contract, a claim both he and lawyers have argued.

When the idea was discussed publicly last week, it was met with such confusion and resistance that board members agreed to hold off on discussing it. Some trustees recommended waiting until January, when incoming Trustee Lola Brooks is set to take office.

Skorkowsky specifically requested to be present for the discussion, but it doesn’t appear there are any plans to cancel Monday’s meeting.

“It’s a little disingenuous when the officers know I’m going to be out of town and schedule a meeting anyway,” Skorkowsky said.

“It’s a little confusing as to why they would do this and what the motives are,” he said. “I can’t begin to think.”

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