Policy fight consumes Douglas school board

Sarah Drinkwine / The Record-Courier

A majority of Tuesday’s seven-hour Douglas County School Board meeting was over an item that would suspend certain district bylaws and policies.

During the meeting Trustee Linda Gilkerson questioned the reasons for revising agenda item 12 along with the nine other proposed changes to be made to bylaws and policies. She argued that the process in which the items were added was not in compliance with current bylaws and policies.

Her questions addressed those bylaws and policies listed on the agenda and asked why they were there and who had a part in creating the agenda.

Trustee David Burns said he was at an Aug. 31 agenda setting meeting but denied having anything to do with the discussion of the agenda items. 

However, according to the Aug. 8 School Board meeting he was the one who originally initiated the changes during the meeting’s section for possible future agenda items.

“Burns requested an agenda item on Bylaws No. 060 Article 6- meetings sections 4a and 4b. He said he would like a general discussion and possible action to look at the Bylaws and discuss the possibility of changes. President Susan Jansen seconded his request.”

Superintendent Keith Lewis said a meeting was held Aug. 31 with himself, Jansen, Burns and school board attorney Joey Gilbert to prepare Tuesday’s agenda.

“I did have some say in the agenda,” said Lewis. “I will add that there were items that were discussed in terms of the bylaws and policies that are before you tonight those were discussed on a superficial level during that meeting on the (Aug.) 31 with the understanding that we would get more information.”

Gilkerson read Bylaw 060 on the record.

“This is, by the way, still in effect and I’m doing this for our community and board, so they know what our bylaws are,” she said. “Section 4A says the agenda for each regular and special meeting of the Board of Trustees shall be developed by the Superintendent and the Board President. Neither the superintendent nor board president can unilaterally place an item on the agenda. In the case of a disagreement between the two parties related to a proposed agenda item, the board officers will intervene and make the decision of inclusion or exclusion. The proposed agenda will be posted in compliance with NRS 241.020.”

The version brought forth said, “the agenda of the Board of Trustees shall be developed by the President, Vice President and Clerk and shall be prepared by the superintendent and the Board President. All agenda items must be finalized by legal counsel to ensure compliance with State laws and regulations and Board Bylaws and Policies. The Board President shall provide final approval. Of the agenda prior to its posting whether internally or externally. The proposed agenda will be posted in compliance with NRS 241.020.”

Gilkerson questioned whether the item was valid.

“So right off the bat I am not sure that this agenda that we have before us is valid,” said Gilkerson. 

Gilbert said he read the bylaws to everyone in the room.

 “We went through everything on (Aug.) 31 and then we had to make some clarifications and formatting on Wednesday,” Gilbert said, “but everything was clearly laid out even had some discussion, but on everything and it was in accordance with the law and statutes and if there was a disagreement, which there was Mr. Burns was there per law to weigh in if needed, which he did. That disagreement was whether to censure Jansen or not. We chose not to.”

The board didn’t get to the policies that included vetting all district communications.

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