Transgender debate may have spurred attorney change

Joey Gilbert

Joey Gilbert

Some attending a special meeting to change the Douglas County School Board’s legal representation on Wednesday accused a majority of the board of making up their minds before the meeting.

School Board trustees voted 4-3 in favor of terminating their contract with Maupin, Cox & LeGoy Law Firm and hired Reno attorney Joey Gilbert.

“Throughout most of the whole thing, the majority was not even being considered,” said Gardnerville resident Patrick Peters after the meeting. “We as a group believe the decision was already made before we showed up. The board did not speak for the community, and they did not do their due diligence.”

To start, the board switched the order of the agenda to handle the hiring of Gilbert first, before discussing and possible termination of services from the Maupin, Cox and LeGoy law firm.

“It would be foolish to fire current legal counsel until we determine that we have someone to replace them with, so if we don’t hear from our council and whether we’re interested or not then we can’t deal with the firing the current.” said Trustee Doug Englekirk.

Trustee Linda Gilkerson expressed her concern for moving the agenda around.

“I don’t know how we can do that,” she said. “I don’t know how we can listen to Gilbert, possibly hire Gilbert and then we still have an attorney, we haven’t taken care of business.”

In response, Board President Susan Jansen said she did not want to hear another three hours of negative comment towards Gilbert.

 “I think it will alleviate a lot of problems and that it’s the right thing to do because of all the letters and people being upset,” she said. “I think we’re going to hear the same thing over and over.”

Most of the six-hour meeting did consist of public comment for and against Gilbert’s hiring, with many expressing concern about his lack of experience with educational law.

“Joey Gilbert is a high-profile Republican in the state of Nevada, and he has a lot of experience with DUI’s, immigration, frivolous lawsuits and rioting at the capitol on January 6,” said attendee Alice Meyer. “These are the skill sets that Joey Gilbert will bring to the district. How does this qualify him for the job. I don’t know.”

Trustees Jansen, David Burns, Katherine Dickerson and Englekirk voted in favor of the change in legal representation for the school district.

“Something I feel contributed to the continuous failure of Maupin, Cox & LeGoy to serve this district well is that times have changed,” said attendee Virginia Starrett. “This district needs legal counsel competent in the rudimentary duties associated with administration and students, but it also needs legal counsel that knows its way around a courtroom and isn’t afraid to put up a fight when necessary to keep Marxism out and Joey Gilbert and his team of education specialists fit that description to a ‘T.’”

Jansen suggested seeking new legal counsel during the June 13 School Board meeting, stating that trust was lost between a majority of the board and the Maupin, Cox & LeGoy Law Firm.

That move came after firm associate Paul Anderson wrote a memo in response to a request by Superintendent Keith Lewis indicating that the district could lose its eligibility to participate in sports under the Nevada Interscholastic Athletic Association should it implement a policy banning transgender students.

“Should the school district limit the participation of transgender students through the proposed policy, the NIAA could become involved in the matter through a Level II eligibility determination and the aggrieved student may file seeking the ability to participate in a sanctioned sport of the gender with which the student identifies,” Anderson wrote on May 21.

Anderson serves as counsel for the athletic association in addition to the Maupin, Cox & LeGoy Law Firm.

It was agreed during the June 13 meeting that requests for proposal would be sought and each board member could bring forward a candidate to interview during the special meeting.

Maupin, Cox & LeGoy Law Firm and Joey Gilbert Law Firm were the only proposals submitted at Wednesday’s meeting. Under Nevada law, competitive bids are not required to hire professionals like attorneys and engineers.

“I do appreciate having served this District and the relationship we built, and I do wish you all the best,” said Attorney Rick Hsu after the firm was let go of legal services for the district Wednesday.

According to Gilbert’s contract, the Douglas County School Board’s legal fees will increase by 44 percent per hour and 50 percent per month from the $5,000 per month and $225 per hour charged by Maupin, Cox & LeGoy.

Maupin, Cox & LeGoy represented Douglas County School District since 1995 with over 40 years of educational law experience in other districts.

Gilbert ran for governor in 2022 and lost to Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo. Many of the policies promised when Jansen, Burns and Dickerson were elected in November align with a national agenda focused on a variety of ideological causes that Gilbert endorsed during his campaign.

The current board has been accused of open meeting law violations on at least two occasions, including that the three new board members orchestrated the selection of Jansen as president over email and a grant funding proposal that the board had to rescind and reapprove.


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