Board will wait until after election to decide legality of teacher as a board member |

Board will wait until after election to decide legality of teacher as a board member

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

School board members voted unanimously not to seek a district court ruling on the legality of a teacher sitting on the board until after the November election.

Board member Michele Lewis made the motion to table the issue. The next school board meeting will be at Kingsbury Middle School Nov. 14, a week after the election.

“I have all the faith in the world the voters will see this as a conflict of interest,” Lewis said.

The motion was seconded by Dave Brady. John Raker, who is running against Douglas High School teacher Randy Green, abstained from the discussion and the vote.

“I’m going to abstain because of a perceived conflict of interest in this issue, so I’ll just bow out,” Raker said.

The board discussed the action and voted despite a request from Green’s attorney, George Keele, to table the item because it was not properly noticed in the agenda.

The agenda item states: “Discussion regarding filing complaint for declaratory relief with District Court and possible action.”

“The notice for an action item of this significance should be thorough and it doesn’t talk about the subject matter. It needs to be re-noticed. The public needs to be on notice this involves the teacher running for school board,” Keele said.

The board did not discuss the request, but board President Don Forrester said after the motion was made that he didn’t want to go forward on a legal issue to later discover the notice was illegal.

Forrester said he asked the Attorney General’s office for a ruling on the legality of a teacher sitting on a school board, but he was told the District Court or the Nevada Ethics Commission needs to do that.

Forrester was also concerned that a decision would not be made before Green is sworn in as a board member, but board member George Echan, who is a lawyer, said it would not take that much time.

Green addressed the board after it voted and said he also has faith in the voters.

“I think it is important the electorate has a say. I am willing to abide by that decision, but I still believe it is wrong for the education system to disenfranchise the people who provide education at the grass roots,” Green said. “The paranoia that teachers would harm the education process, I just don’t see that with the people I work with.”

Green said although he also believes anyone, including school superintendents or other administrators, should have a right to sit on the board, that public scrutiny during campaigns would make it evident if anyone has an underhanded agenda.

n Occupational education. The board heard a report from DHS occupational education program director Tricia Wentz, Assistant Superintendent of Education Services Roy Casey and Stan Aman, vice president of academic and student affairs for Western Nevada Community College.

But, before that, Superintendent Pendery Clark spoke up about criticism the school district has gotten over competencies and the occupational education program.

Clark said many statistics have been bantered about, but the reality is 60 percent of DHS graduates go on to higher education and that number is between 60 percent and 80 percent at Whittell High School.

“This clearly leaves a group who won’t go on. For 18 months we gathered information from area businesses – casinos, Bently, McDonald’s – and we heard students who apply for jobs with them could not read, could not write, could not complete an interview coherently and could not provide a coherent resume,” Clark said. “At that time, a student could go through the system, and as long as they were sitting in a seat and completing the required coursework, they could graduate with a D- average, and you can essentially still do that. We are not about handing out diplomas. We are supported by taxpayers and we have an obligation to ensure every student is competent in the basic skill levels.”

Clark said all students need to be able to demonstrate 9th grade levels in reading, writing, basic algebra, geometry, government and show they understand how to draw and test a hypothesis. Clark said all students, no matter what they plan on doing after high school, should demonstrate those abilities.

Stan Aman told the board that WNCC wants to continue to foster the relationship with the school district and is looking forward to sharing the responsibility for new classes.

In spring 2001, the high school plans to offer an auto body course for dual credit. The college will provide the teacher and pay rent to the school. The students will have to pay for the class, but will receive both high school and college credit.

The school will also help bring construction technology courses to the school, Aman said. The courses will be the core classes needed for a construction tech degree from the college.

The classes will help fill the gap of skilled help area contractors have been asking for, Aman said. He said the construction industry has already committed scholarship money.

DHS Principal Charlie Condron said he supported the idea, but said the courses might have to be offered at times other than the regular school day because students are expected to squeeze so much into a day already, he said.

Teacher Mike Wentz, who said he has taken over some of James Archdekin’s classes, said it will be impossible to turn out skilled help from the high school level, because most students aren’t interested in learning the details of the business at that age and those skills are learned on the job, not in the classroom. Archdekin left the school when his construction and auto classes were cut a few weeks into the school year. His salary was paid with a grant through WNCC and a communication error prevented the school district from understanding the grant would not longer cover Archdekin’s salary this year.

Other classes planned for Spring 2002 are computer repair and engraving at Whittell only, certified nursing assistant instruction and electronics and robotics. Planned for sometime in the 2001-2002 school year is the start of a culinary arts class at DHS.