Washoe board: Three strikes and they were out of touch

This editorial first appeared in Wednesday’s edition of The Record-Courier.

Washoe County School Board Trustee Howard Rosenberg told Nevada Newsmakers there was a lot more to the suspension of superintendent Pedro Martinez than the public knew.

And that’s the problem in a nutshell.

School superintendents, county, city and district managers are all public officials. They’re hired in public, they’re reviewed in public and they should be fired in public.

Strike one.

A review of the July 22 agenda where trustees placed Martinez on suspension wouldn’t give the public any clue the board was planning to make any sort of decision at all.

It was a workshop where board policies and procedures were being discussed.

Strike two.

That day the trustees sent out a press release to indicate Martinez had been suspended. The next day Board President Barbara Clark sent out a press release the district would discuss Martinez’ employment a week later, something she later took back. Under state law, a substantially longer notification period is required before discussing an official’s competency.

Strike three.

Certainly the board’s action, legal or not, will make it unlikely Martinez will be able to function as superintendent. That leaves him the option of suing the district. The worst case would be taxpayers will have to pay him for the duration of his contract without his having to come to work.

Next week, Douglas County manager candidates will be here as part of the public process to hire for that position. We believe this tale of what can go wrong in dealing with a public official should remind governing boards across the state to crack their copies of the open meeting law and check their processes before taking action.


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