Case study: How CCSD avoids transparency

Victor Joecks

There's a very interesting story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal today about the Clark County School District writing a $100,000 check to remove CCSD Board president Erin Cranor from a lawsuit.

The lawsuit story is interesting in its own right, but the story also contains two examples of how CCSD avoids transparency.

First, CCSD's offer of a $100,000 settlement meant it wouldn't have to obtain board approval for the check. Per its regulations, the board votes on settlements over $100,000. When reporter Trevon Milliard asked school board vice president Linda Young about the settlement check, which was issued over one month ago, she didn't even know the check had been sent out.

School Board Vice President Linda Young, who said she expected a board vote on the settlement, was flabbergasted when she learned the check was cut more than a month ago. Other board members did not return calls for comment.

“It’s hard for me to respond because I don’t know anything about it,” Young said after the Review-Journal told her of the payment. “The only information we’re (the School Board) getting right now is it’s ‘in the process.’ ”

Second, there's a tidbit at the bottom of the story that shows exactly how CCSD responsed to many of NPRI's requests for information.

The Review-Journal reported on Aug. 19 that Business Benefits had accepted $100,100 to drop Cranor as an individual defendant, subject to board approval. On Tuesday, after four weekly board meetings had come and gone, the newspaper asked when the settlement would come up for a public vote.

[CCSD spokeswoman and chief of staff Kirsten] Searer’s response: “The Business Benefits lawsuit is still pending. I will let you know when we have additional information on this.”

When asked Wednesday why she didn’t disclose the payment had already been sent without board approval, Searer said: “That’s not what you asked.”

In 2013, taxpayers paid Searer over $150,000 in total compensation to have her hide information from reporters and taxpayers. If you're looking for school district waste, stopping CCSD from spending hundreds of thousands or millions per year fighting transparency is an obvious place to start.

Unfortunately, hiding information and misleading about embarrassing incidents is par for the course for many CCSD officials.