Attorney General’s Office Announces Open Meeting Law Settlement With Washoe County School District Board of Trustees

January 12, 2016

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt announced that the Office of the Attorney General and the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees entered into a settlement agreement to resolve a complaint filed by the Reno Gazette-Journal. The complaint was filed after Interim Superintendent Traci Davis was appointed as the permanent superintendent during a public meeting on March 24, 2015. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the Board acknowledged that it violated the Open Meeting Law by voting to appoint Davis as permanent superintendent when the meeting agenda only permitted discussion of the search for a new superintendent for the school district. Nevada’s Open Meeting Law requires public meeting agendas to contain a clear and complete statement of topics scheduled to be considered at the meeting.

    After a motion to appoint Davis was approved, the Trustees were informed that the action may have been in violation of the Open Meeting Law, and a motion was subsequently made and approved to rescind the appointment before the adjournment of the meeting. The Board later appointed Davis under an appropriate agenda item at their next meeting on April 14, 2015. The Office of the Attorney General concluded that forgoing prosecution was in the public’s interest, and that settlement was an appropriate compromise, since the Board took immediate corrective action upon learning of their violation. The Board fully cooperated in the investigation of the complaint, and took extensive measures to ensure future compliance with the law, including Open Meeting Law training for the Board and its staff.

      “My Office is committed to protecting the transparency of the public process by requiring strict enforcement and conformity to all laws,” said Laxalt. “The Open Meeting Law requires notice to the public so that Nevadans may participate in the public process. Such notice ensures that the deliberations and actions of public bodies are conducted in the open.”

        The settlement agreement acknowledges the Board’s effort to follow the letter and spirit of the Open Meeting Law by publically inquiring whether they could appoint Davis under the agenda item. The agreement also recognizes the Board’s timely effort to take corrective action and mitigate the severity of the violation. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, payment of a maximum $500 civil penalty for the violation is suspended, provided there are no new violations of the Open Meeting Law for a period of one year.

          Chief Deputy Attorney General Brett Kandt handled the resolution of this complaint.

            For more information on the Open Meeting Law, visit the Nevada Legislature website here. To file an Open Meeting Law complaint with our Office, click here. The Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law as well as the Settlement Agreement are attached.