A contract hiring Reno attorney Joey Gilbert was questioned by the senior trustee on the Douglas County School Board.
Trustee Linda Gilkerson, who was elected in 2016, excoriated the process by which Gilbert was hired and his first paycheck.
“This is not worth the paper it is written on,” Gilkerson said, “it’s not a valid contract.”
In his first month as attorney for the Douglas County School Board, Joey Gilbert charged the school district approximately $27,500 more than his agreed upon $7,500 per month retainer.
During the seven-hour school board meeting Tuesday, the board discussed the expenses and contract of the recently hired crime attorney.
Gilkerson said a woman named Keira Sears billed the district $325 per hour, standard for a licensed attorney. Sears works for Gilbert’s law firm, but she is not licensed to practice law in Nevada or California. She appears to have taken charge of researching, policy drafting and billing during the month, none of which many of the board members knew until Tuesday. She also answered a majority of the questions during the board meeting on behalf of Gilbert, who was sitting next to her.
The Record-Courier has filed a public records request with the school district to obtain the detailed report.
Expenses included thousands of dollars charged for answering emails and phone calls with Trustee David Burns.
Gilkerson argued that no one authorized Burns to discuss anything with Gilbert and the questions should have been directed to Superintendent Keith Lewis.
Sears said Burns had a right to seek out counsel.
Gilkerson also argued that Gilbert’s contract was never approved or voted by the board and that some board members never saw the contract in its final form.
She said the contract was only presented for the board to sign, but only Susan Jansen, Doug Englekirk, David Burns and Katherine Dickerson signed. The line for Lewis’ signature was removed, which goes against policy and Gilbert’s own contract that was presented during the July 19 board meeting.
“Contractor acknowledges that as required by statute or regulations this contract is effective only after approved by DCSD’s Superintendent or Chief Financial Officer and only for the period specified in the contract,” it said.
Sears argued that Lewis was not allowed to sign, but his approval was implied because he didn’t object. Lewis said at the meeting he did object, but nothing was done.
Gilbert said he intentionally changed parts of the contract so that he would report to the board and not to the superintendent, the attorney said on Tuesday.
Article 19 of the contract states that “no variations of the terms of the contract shall be valid unless made in writing and signed by both parties. Oral understanding and other agreements shall not be incorporated herein and shall not be binding.”
Despite some trustees’ requests to view Gilbert’s contract and to hold off on approving expenses until the contract can be negotiated properly, the expenses were approved 5-2, with Gilkerson and Kangas against.