Davis Lawsuit Against WCSD Filed in District Court (Updated)

Washoe schools Superintendent Traci Davis gives the state of education address at Billinghurst Middle School. Image: Bob Conrad.
Washoe schools Superintendent Traci Davis gives the state of education address at Billinghurst Middle School. Image: Bob Conrad.

UPDATE (Aug. 31, 2019): This story has been updated to include a statement from the school district.

The promised lawsuit by former Superintendent Traci Davis against the Washoe County School District was filed today in district court. Attorney Bill Peterson filed the suit on Davis’ behalf. The suit alleges misconduct by school board trustees and school district administrators.

“Davis obtained good or satisfactory performance reviews for the entire tenure of her employment…,” Peterson said. “By June 2019, Superintendent Davis had satisfied all the performance metrics for: (1) earning a performance bonus for the 2019 school year, and (2) an additional year of employment as Superintendent through June 30, 2021.”

Board President Katy Simon Holland. Image: Ty O'Neil.
Board President Katy Simon Holland.
Image: Ty O’Neil.

The suit alleges that School Board President Katy Simon Holland was directed by WCSD’s General Legal Counsel, Neil Rombardo, to initiate Davis’ firing by issuing a letter stating that the board was going to consider her employment and conduct.

“The pretext for the June 13 ‘Notice’ and the June 21 Special Board Meeting was District General Counsel’s receipt of documents produced in discovery in the District’s pending litigation with a former employee who had been fired by Superintendent Davis,” Peterson continued. “None of the emails or texts in the discovery documents either came from or were address to…Davis.

“None of the emails or texts states, or indicates in any way, that confidential information came from … Davis or identifies her as a source.”

“Copies of this additional material were not provided to … Davis or to the public, notwithstanding the requirements of the Open Meeting Law.”

Peterson said that the district was aware of potential leaks of confidential information more than a year ago, but “the District considered an additional investigation into the leaks, but, as part of a settlement with one of the District employees already being investigated, agreed to, and did, close all current and currently contemplated investigations.”

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Davis claims that no other investigation took place even after Holland notified her of possible termination. The suit also alleges that the district improperly fired her, including suspending her email account while publicly claiming Davis was on voluntary leave.

How did the Washoe County School District melt down? Let’s count the ways.

Days of drama ensued in mid-June when school board of trustees President Katy Simon Holland sneakily announced Davis had taken a surprise leave of absence.

Peterson also claimed that the school board was provided “with a ‘Fact Sheet’ riddled with mistakes of fact along with a hundred or more pages of material under the labels ‘attorney-client privilege, attorney work product, and/or deliberative process privilege’ purportedly supporting the ‘Fact Sheet.’

“Copies of this additional material were not provided to … Davis or to the public, notwithstanding the requirements of the Open Meeting Law, precluding … Davis from even addressing the information, let alone contradicting or countering it.”

The school board, in other words, took action but was privy to information nobody else had, Peterson said, which was a violation of Davis’ rights under her contract with the district.

Davis is seeking to recoup attorney fees and damages of more than $20,000 “in an amount to be proved at trial” for multiple claims.

The district said it would vigorously defend itself against the claims.

“I am confident that the WCSD acted in an open, transparent, and fair manner that met due process and did not violate her contract,” Rombardo said. “We do not litigate in the press, so I will not comment further except to say the legal team looks forward to defending the District in Court.”

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Read the Lawsuit Below

Bob Conrad
About Bob Conrad 1105 Articles
Bob Conrad is co-founder of ThisisReno. He manages ThisisReno and Conrad Communications, LLC, his marketing communications consulting company. He also works part time for the University of Nevada, Reno.

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