RENO, Nev. — A Reno newspaper is asking Nevada’s attorney general to investigate whether the Washoe County school board violated the open-meetings law earlier this week when it ousted school superintendent Pedro Martinez.
Meanwhile, a board member defended the move, saying a dispute over Martinez’s resume was only part of the problem and the situation is more complicated than the public realizes.
The school district’s board of trustees issued a statement on Tuesday announcing Martinez had been “relieved of his duties” immediately, then clarified a day later he had been placed on paid administrative leave pending any formal action.
Martinez, former deputy superintendent of Clark County schools in Las Vegas, said he had been fired after an illegal, private meeting of six of the seven board members who accused him of lying during his hiring two years ago about whether he was a certified public accountant, despite the fact he provided documentation proving he passed the CPA exam.
His lawyer said in a letter to the board that his ouster violated the state’s open meeting law, and the head of the Nevada Press Association agreed.
A lawyer for the Reno Gazette-Journal on Thursday asked Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to investigate.
“This conduct by the board was so outrageous that it is difficult to identify a requirement of the Open Meeting Law that the Board did not violate,” Reno attorney Scott Glogovac wrote in a letter Thursday.
The district said in a statement announcing that Martinez had been relieved of duties that board members “are in discussions with Mr. Martinez, and for legal reasons, we cannot share specific details.”
Board president Barbara Clark said Martinez’ future will be addressed at a board meeting on Tuesday.
Reno Mayor Bob Cashell was among those who said they were surprised by the move and believed Martinez’ had been doing a good job. Martinez helped shepherd the district through a deadly schoolyard shooting and had taken a lead role in pushing tax increases to boost education spending.
Board trustee Howard Rosenberg, a professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, defended the action during an appearance Thursday on KRNV-TV’s “Nevada Newsmakers.”
“This is a situation that is much, much deeper than the public has any idea of. Mr. Martinez is playing it for all that it is worth, and I wish him well, but there is a great deal more here,” Rosenberg said.