Board votes to appeal court-ordered release of investigation details

RENO — A Nevada school district wants to keep the details of an investigation into special education officials private.

The Washoe County School District board of trustees voted unanimously last week to appeal a Reno judge’s order to turn over documents to the Reno Gazette Journal, the newspaper reported .

The Gazette Journal filed a petition seeking the documents in early February, but the school district denied the request, saying they are protected as “attorney-client work product.”

Third-party investigators looked into allegations of bullying and harassment against chief of student services Byron Green and Jenny Ricci, who both oversaw the education of children with disabilities.

The newspaper obtained a memo from Deputy Superintendent Kristen McNeill that recommended “administrative actions” against Green, and the district said last year that Ricci was no longer an employee.

Board president Katy Simon Holland said releasing the documents could have a “chilling effect” on people who make complaints. The judge, however, ordered any identifiable information blacked out.

The newspaper’s attorney, Louis Bubala, said Nevada law already protects those who make complaints in such situations, which is why the judge ordered the documents redacted.

“Privacy is a concern everybody has, but that doesn’t mean government gets to hide behind some shield to prevent the public from knowing what it’s doing,” he said.

General counsel Neil Rombardo declined to comment on why the school district was appealing the judge’s decision, citing attorney-client privilege. It has until Thursday to file the appeal to the Nevada Supreme Court.

He said the investigation did not involve children, though the memo from McNeill said the investigation involved student records. The district has refused to say why investigators reviewed student records.


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