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NSHE official who accused regent of ‘child speak’ leaves job

The chief of staff for the Nevada System of Higher Education, who told a regent during an August meeting to stop with her “child speak,” is no longer in the position.

Dean Gould, an attorney who was chief of staff and special counsel to the Board of Regents, retired from NSHE as of Dec. 31, NSHE spokesman Francis McCabe told the Review-Journal on Tuesday. He declined to comment on the reason for Gould’s departure.

Regents will consider appointing Keri Nikolajewski, currently the board’s deputy chief of staff, to fill the vacancy on an interim basis, according to a Friday meeting agenda. The virtual meeting, which also includes the oath of office and orientation for four new regents elected in November, begins at 10:30 a.m.

Gould stirred controversy on Aug. 7 at a Board of Regents meeting where divided regents voted to change board policy to comply with new U.S. Department of Education sexual misconduct regulations.

At one point during the discussion, Regent Lisa Levine, who opposed the Title IX policy changes, alleged that regents who voted “yes” were standing on the side of rapists and violent criminals.

Levine called Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford during the meeting to ask him to weigh in, but the board chairman told her she was acting out of turn. Gould asked Levine to mute her line and when she didn’t, he said he didn’t want to “man speak,” but would have to if Levine continued to “child speak.”

An eight-second video clip of the exchange circulated quickly on Twitter and drew criticism from numerous public figures, including from state officials such as Ford and Gov. Steve Sisolak, who called Gould’s comment “patronizing and condescending.”

The board later hired an attorney to investigate Gould’s remarks.

In a statement released after the Aug. 7 meeting, Gould said his reaction was in response to a July 23 meeting, where he was attempting to prevent an open meeting law violation when Levine accused him of “mansplaining.”

“I found this comment to be unprofessional and embarrassing and is not an appropriate way for an employer to speak to an employee,” Gould said in the statement.

Levine was “disrupting the defined procedural process” during the meeting while the board chairman was trying to take a roll call vote, Gould said. “At that time, I became frustrated at her lack of decorum. In retrospect, I should not have stooped to her level of acrimony.”

Gould could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.

In a statement Tuesday to the Review-Journal, Levine — who has finished her term on the board — said: “I am proud of the work I did while serving on the board, from fighting for stronger protections for victims and survivors of sexual violence and discrimination to advocating for commonsense solutions to cut wasteful spending and invest public monies into the classroom, and succeeded at intervening to keep students from being evicted. NSHE must do more to strengthen higher education by increasing access, investing in workforce development and rooting out government inefficiencies.”

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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