weather icon Partly Cloudy

Letter alleging ‘bullying’ by school district official sets off a tsunami

Four months ago, an outspoken woman with a history of being escorted out of Clark County School Board meetings said something during public comment that others at the session apparently were thinking.

“Eddie Goldman is all over every building, every student, everybody, all of you, me,” longtime resident and schools activist Marzette Lewis said on Dec. 14. “And it’s a disgrace for what this man has done, and you have kept him here for all these years.”

She implored the board to sack Goldman, the associate superintendent of Employee Management Relations, and applause filled the room.

But apparently nobody in the Clark County School District wanted to risk putting pen to paper to add weight to Lewis’ words.

Enter Donald Harris, who retired from the district last week. On his way out the door, he penned a nine-page bombshell letter filled with accusations — mostly against Goldman.

That letter described an Employee Management Relations department rife with discrimination and favoritism, headed by a man who collects information on people and uses it to wield power.

“He has no life other than being a bully at the Clark County School District,” wrote Harris, who was a director in the department, “and no one is stopping him.”

Goldman, who said he plans to take legal action against Harris, called the letter defamatory and charged that it contained inaccuracies and outright lies.

Other current or former employees called out in Harris’ letter also say the parts about them were incorrect.

The letter still opened the floodgates. Harris has received a stream of support emails and text messages since the letter appeared on social media last week.

The district announced it would hire an outside investigator to look into the allegations — but chose an attorney in a law firm that does business with the district on a regular basis.

Are complaints against Goldman simply the grievances of disgruntled employees? The Employee Management Relations department, which investigates employees accused of misconduct, doesn’t exist to make friends. Goldman also claimed that Harris wanted him to change his prior “vacation” time to “sick leave,” and was rejected.

But how many employees with disciplinary records does it take to show that their stories are still credible, despite their past transgressions?

“You hear that there are concerns or there are issues, yet it’s second- and third-hand, and the story changes every time you hear it,” Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said this week when asked about the allegations. “So you begin to think that there is no truth, and first and foremost you do have to have something actually tangible to investigate.”

Harris’ letter alleged that Goldman had “dirt” on the superintendent, which Goldman denies. Skorkowsky said Goldman has never mentioned having compromising information.

All this is unfolding during the school district’s search for a new superintendent to replace the retiring Skorkowsky. And Chief Academic Officer Mike Barton — a strong internal candidate and a sweetheart of CCSD — has been thrust into the drama. Harris’ letter describes him as a Goldman ally. Barton has tried to shake the notion that he’s one of “Eddie’s boys.”

It’s unclear whether anything will come of the investigation. But it could be an unwelcome distraction for the next superintendent. 

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter. On Education appears every other Saturday.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Clark County schools closure would cut risk, but at what cost?

District leaders are weighing the major reason to close schools — slowing the spread of disease — against dozens of other concerns, including free meals and family disruptions.

On issues of inequity, CCSD doesn’t have to go it alone

Family to Family Connection serves as a birthday party room for kids experiencing housing insecurity, a play area for babies and toddlers and a classroom for all ages.

Would Nevadans support a sales tax increase for schools?

The education funding debate is not unique to the Silver State; nearby states have an array of approaches, with no one having found the right balance.