‘Education’ articles

Charter-school parents fear
the creeping CCSD mindset

Pinecrest Academy’s board seen as distancing itself from parent concerns

LAS VEGAS — Two years ago, parents packed a convention center ballroom to rally around the prospect that a new charter school would bring school choice to downtown Henderson.

Two years later, a change in school administration and a new direction taken by the school board has many of those same parents feeling they’d been the victims of something like a bait and switch.

“We came to Pinecrest (Academy) for something different,” Rebecca Franks told the Pinecrest board during a September 2 board meeting. “We came to Pinecrest because we wanted something better for our kids.”

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Administrator on CCSD payroll working
for another state government?

District investigation underway

LAS VEGAS — Has one of the Clark County School District’s department honchos found a way to eat taxpayer cake in two separate states at the same time?

It appears so.

In Southern Nevada, for nearly 12 years, Bramby Tollen was the director of CCSD’s purchasing and warehouse department. Then this March, according to district officials, she was transferred to the CCSD human resources department as an “Administrator on Special Assignment” — while continuing to earn a base salary of $104,760 a year, plus $1,800 annually for longevity.

Tollen’s total pay and benefits for the 2013 calendar year were $140,663.82, according to CCSD information on Transparent Nevada.

However, as of June 13, Snohomish County, Washington, has had a new purchasing manager — also named Bramby Tollen.

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‘You have every right to fight for your kids’

Civil rights pioneer speaks to Nevada parents about their rights

“I don’t want to go there, Daddy. They’re mean to us,” she said.

It was 1966 in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Virginia — one of about 135 black kids selected to desegregate Central High School — was talking with her father.

She was telling him how hard every day was and how horrible some of the white kids were acting.

Almost 10 years before, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus, defying a federal court order, had used the state National Guard to block nine black students from attending Central High. Then U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower had federalized the Guard and, for good measure, sent in the 101st Airborne to protect the nine, even escorting them into class and through the halls.

By 1966, however, Central High was still not integrated. And Virginia and her twin sister Harrietta were experiencing what it was to desegregate a previously segregated public high school.

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Calif. teacher-tenure rules
hurt kids, says judge

'Nonsensical' protections for bad teachers
said to harm poor and minority students most

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A first-of-its-kind court ruling that concluded CalifoAlex Caputo-Pearl, president elect of United Teachers LA rnia's union-backed teacher tenure, layoff and dismissal laws infringe on students' rights to an equal public education adds fire to a debate over whether the job protections afforded professional educators are partly to blame for what ails the nation's schools, experts said.

A judge in Los Angeles on Tuesday sided with nine students who sued to overturn the state statutes governing teacher hiring and firing, saying they served no compelling purpose and had led to an unfair, nonsensical system that drove excellent new teachers from the classroom too soon while allowing incompetent senior ones to remain.

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CCSD has spent $2.1 million on
outside legal counsel since 2011

Nothing comes before the school board, but CCSD’s legal department is well over budget

LAS VEGAS — The Clark County School District Office of General Counsel has an annual budget exceeding $3 million and a legal team of 10 attorneys, nine secretarial and clerical staff, plus one administrator.

Part of that $3 million each year is $500,000 allocated for the hiring of additional, outside attorneys.

Nevertheless, in the last three school years the office has exceeded its outside-counsel budget and has paid out over $2.1 million to 10 private law firms. Of that, over $1.2 million went to two firms — Greenberg-Traurig, and Lewis and Roca (now Lewis Roca Rothgerber), according to CCSD records reviewed by Nevada Journal.

For this school year, the CCSD legal office is some $179,000 over its legal services budget.

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Dad told seeing state’s records
on his kids will cost him $10 grand+

Over 800 data points now collected on each Nevada public, charter school student

LAS VEGAS — Would you like to see the information the State of Nevada is keeping on your child?

You may have to take out a loan.

The State Department of Education recently notified one Washoe County parent it would cost him more than $10,000.

When John Eppolito, a parent of four, asked to view the information the state is warehousing on his children, he was informed that "the Department’s Director of Information Technology… has estimated that the cost will be approximately $10,194."

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Pay of Nevada’s public-school employees,
versus private sector, is 4th highest in U.S.

BLS data shows 17 point gap between K-12 and private sector income in Nevada

LAS VEGAS — As teacher union activists push for a heavy new tax on Nevada’s private-sector employers, federal data is showing that the state’s public K-12 education sector is actually doing far better, financially, than the state’s private sector.

Moreover, the gap is so large that it’s the fourth biggest in the country.

Nevada Journal — building on work recently published in the John Locke Foundation’s Carolina Journal by Executive Editor Don Carrington — this week accessed both the BLS.gov and the Silver State’s NevadaWorkforce.com websites to learn how well Nevada’s private sector is doing, versus the average state private sector nationally.

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CCSD Board to weigh authorizing hiring
for which it’s already receiving bills

Taxpayers to foot the bill for board president’s top-of-the line legal defense?

LAS VEGAS — Four months ago, the Clark County School District hired state Sen. Mark Hutchison to defend its school board president, Carolyn Edwards, before the state ethics commission.

CCSD General Counsel Carlos McDade on July 24 “acknowledged and agreed to” terms proposed by Hutchison — a contract specifying hourly rates of $330 for himself and $175 for an assisting attorney.

Since then, the school district has amassed over $21,000 in legal fees and costs with the Hutchison & Steffen law firm.

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Ethics commission in settlement
talks with CCSD’s Edwards

Slap on wrist possible, despite district trustees’ other ethics issues

LAS VEGAS — Two key witnesses expected earlier to testify in the ethics investigation of Clark County School District Board President Carolyn Edwards have been told by the Nevada Ethics Commission that they don’t need to.

The reason? According to the commission’s executive director, their testimony is no longer needed, since Edwards is planning to stipulate to the charges against her.

She thus joins the other recent CCSD subject of ethics complaints, district lobbyist Joyce Haldeman, already in settlement talks with the ethics panel.

Both witnesses tell Nevada Journal that ethics officials informed them, via email, that the scheduled Nov. 20 evidentiary hearing in this matter had been canceled.

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State, CCSD shift resources away
from ELL high school students

Vegas charter school seeks to meet dire need

LAS VEGAS — For English-language-learner high school students in Clark County, a new private commitment to the New America School-Vegas could not come at a more critical time.

Even though the Clark County School District is scheduled to receive almost $40 million from the state for ELL programming over the next biennium, none of it is going to the ELL needs of high school students.

Moreover, says Mike Barton, chief student achievement officer for CCSD, the district’s current ELL graduation initiative — focused on summer programs, credit retrieval and high school seniors, and funded by federal Title III dollars — is about to change.

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