In response to the news that CCSD Board President Deanna Wright’s husband Jason Wright, a district educator, was recently accused of assaulting a 5th grade student and subsequently transferred to a new school, the Nevada Policy Research Institute once again highlighted the importance of transparency in government-union contract negotiations.
“This situation reeks of favoritism and secrecy and should be investigated by an independent third-party to ascertain the underlying facts,” says NPRI policy analyst Daniel Honchariw. “However, it also underscores the urgent need for sunlight on government-union contract negotiations.”
Honchariw says a bad situation was made worse “because of a dangerous contractual provision agreed to by the district and its teacher union behind closed doors.”
Per Article 12, Section 10 of the district’s collective bargaining agreement with the Clark County Education Association, all allegations of misconduct, no matter how well documented, are automatically wiped from employees’ personnel files — with the sole exception of allegations that resulted in a criminal conviction. The accused can then be transferred to a different district school whose staff, administrators, students and parents are wholly unaware of the past accusations, increasing the potential for more students to be victimized.
“This provision — which explicitly serves the narrow interest of the union and its dues-paying members, at the expense of student safety — is a reflection of Nevada’s fundamentally broken collective bargaining laws for local government unions,” says Honchariw.
Due to the outsized political influence of government-sector unions, Nevada lawmakers agreed decades ago to exempt union negotiations from the purview of Nevada’s Open Meetings Law. This exemption means that all aspects of the collective bargaining process occur beyond public view.
“Such secrecy leaves unions free to demand, and oftentimes receive, contract provisions that are unable to withstand public scrutiny,” Honchariw explains.
Just last year the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s “Broken Trust” series documented the real-world harm of such provisions. For example, before former CCSD teacher Jeremiah Mazo eventually pleaded guilty to three felony counts of attempted lewdness with a child in August 2015, his file had been completely wiped of other allegations dating back to 2008.
Had those allegations been reported on his confidential personnel file when he was transferred to a different school after the 2008 incident, perhaps administrators could have taken necessary steps to prevent the later abuses to which Mazo eventually pleaded guilty.
“This so-called ‘pass the trash’ policy is unacceptable and must be immediately ended for the safety of all CCSD students,” says Honchariw. “To do this, the first step is bringing transparency to union negotiations.
“There is no justification for secrecy in the collective bargaining process — especially when such a culture of secrecy puts the safety of Nevada’s 490,000 students at risk.
“Moreover, members of government unions are paid with taxpayer dollars, and as such, the public has every right to witness these negotiations in real time, in public view.
“The legislative fix is simple: Strike NRS 288.220 from Nevada law. Keeping such an unacceptable law on the books is merely a testament to the corrosive, undue influence government unions have over the legislative process.”