Union claims school board violating state law
January 4, 2018
A labor union is complaining six members of the Douglas County School Board violated state law in awarding a contract.
According to a statement issued Thursday by Laborers' Union Local 169, the school board approved a single contract for a Construction Manager At Risk that dealt with what it asserts are a half-dozen separate projects.
Under state law, counties with fewer than 100,000 residents are only allowed to approve the contracts for two public works in a calendar year.
"Bundling six separate and distinct ('discrete') projects into one CMAR cannot be done legally by a public body in a county with a population of less than 100,000," said union Assistant Business Manager Eloy Jara, who said he filed the complaint with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
"We have not been served with any criminal complaints," Douglas County School Superintendent Teri White said.
Sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Bernadette Smith said the sheriff's office documented the complaint.
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"It was not a criminal complaint," Smith said. "As a courtesy we documented his complaint as a civil problem. No further action on our part will be taken."
Jara said the union filed a lawsuit seeking an order to overturn the decision in Douglas County District Court that was dismissed on the grounds the union lacked standing.
There was no determination about whether the project had legal standing, Jara said.
"By not allowing or seeking on their own a declaratory order from the court as to the legality of their course of action prior to taking it, the Douglas County School District has placed the individual school board members, the projects and the taxpayers of Douglas County at risk," Jara added.
A representative of the union was at the Oct. 10 meeting where the school board awarded the contract to Core Construction.
According to minutes of the meeting, Project Manager Scott McCullough said the district has been using the same process since 2011.
Using construction managers at risk limits the amount a project cost can balloon but requiring the manager to deliver a project within a guaranteed maximum price.
School board members approved the contract after consulting with their attorney Rick Hsu.
The school district contends that the program is a single project for improvements through the district and is a prevailing wage job.
According to the district, Hsu researched the case and said he believed it was within the state law.
The district has budgeted $2.325 million for the work. The work includes roof modifications for the district office, Americans with Disability Act improvements to Gardnerville Elementary's Heritage Building, entry work on Whittell High and Zephyr Cove Elementary schools, work at Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School and HVAC work at Scarselli Elementary.
There were only six school board trustees at the Oct. 10 meeting, because trustee Neal Freitas resigned.