Washoe County School District Fires Superintendent Traci Davis – an audio catalog of public comment

by Brian Bahouth

On Monday at a special meeting of the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees, the 7-person board voted 6 to 1 to dismiss Superintendent Traci Davis with cause for “dishonesty, unethical conduct, gross negligence and/or violation of board policy and administrative regulations.” The only no vote was cast by Trustee Jacqueline Calvert.

A 13 page “Fact Sheet” released by the district details how Chief Student Services Officer Byron Green and Chief of Staff David Lasic leaked damaging information about the district to Jenny Ricci, a former WCSD administrator who was fired in October of 2018 and had filed a wrongful termination suit. The Fact Sheet alleges Davis knew of the leaks and allowed them to happen. Davis denied the charges.

“I did not participate in releasing or giving confidential information,” Davis told trustees.

Hear Traci Davis’ remarks to the board of trustees.

During Monday’s meeting Davis and her attorney William Peterson said they tried to reach a separation settlement with the district but the negotiations failed. Six of the seven trustees appeared confident that the large volume of evidence compiled against Davis will stand up in court.

Traci Davis’ attorney William Peterson offered remarks to the board. He challenged the procedural timing of asking his client to speak before public comment, which Peterson said undermined her ability to respond to allegations. Hear William Peterson’s comments.

Peterson and Davis said they will sue the district if she is fired for cause, and Peterson echoed that intention when he told trustees that even though Davis’ contract states she is not entitled to “due process” when being fired, she would be given the opportunity.

“I sent each of you a letter and in that letter what I asked was that the president (Katy Simon Holland) here be recused from this proceeding because in my view that she has extreme hostility, bias and prejudgment on this case,” Peterson said. “Miss Holland says that we’re not entitled to due process under the contract, but we’re going to get it. This is not due process.”

Former Superintendent Pedro Martinez hired Traci Davis in September of 2012 as Deputy Superintendent. Following the rancorous firing of Martinez, Davis was appointed interim superintendent in October of 2014. On July 10 of 2015 the Washoe County Schools Board of Trustees appointed Davis as superintendent of the sprawling district with some 65,000 students and 8,000 employees.

Before the board voted, several of the trustees made comments. Hear the remarks of Trustee Andrew Caudill who also made the motion to fire Traci Davis.

Trustee Angela Taylor offered comments before voting to end Traci Davis’ employment with the district.

Hear Trustee Scott Kelley’s comments.

Trustee Malena Raymond wept while offering brief comments.

Trustee Ellen Minetto made comments before voting to terminate Traci Davis as superintendent.

Hear the comments of board President Katy Simon Holland.

In additional comments just before that vote on Davis’ employment, Trustee Angela Taylor spoke of the “pain” to come.

“It grieves me deeply for us to be here,” Taylor said in a somber tone. “I can’t even find the words to express that. I never thought we’d be here. Obviously I can see where people are lining up. It was certainly my hope that an amicable resolution … and I understand that work was happening and fell apart. I do recognize that for whatever those reasons may be that it was my hope that would be our solution to this. I think that would have saved us the pain that’s to come, I believe, because I believe there are certainly still some pain that’s to come.

“I do understand where we are and I do think that it’s unfortunate regardless of where we ended up here, but like I said before, we just can’t put it back in the bottle. And I think that’s the one thing that probably all sides of the issue would agree that we can’t go back.”

After the board voted to end Traci Davis’ employment, the trustees voted unanimously to appoint Deputy Superintendent of Schools Kristin McNeil to be interim superintendent. Dr. McNeil wept throughout her comments.

Hear interim Superintendent Kristin McNeil’s comments.

Public Comment

Traci Davis and her attorney sat in the front row during the meeting, behind the podium where people offered comments in support and against her. For some insight into the breadth of public comment, we offer the following audio catalog of public comment. If we misspelled your name, write us at [email protected]

Kitty Jung

John Galtney

Lonnie Feemster

Don Galamore

During Monday’s meeting, public comment was wide-ranging and sometimes strayed from the specific issue of leaking information and focused on Traci Davis’ performance and salary. Pay equity within the district inspired third year math teacher Sierra Gill to offer comment. Gil told trustees that she has difficulty reconciling the fact that her salary is roughly one-twelfth the size of the superintendent and that she was second guessing her decision to become a teacher.

“When someone comes in here demanding $400,000 as a salary, at that point I lose all respect for them because I do not believe that you are here within the education system if you want that much money,” Gil said. “Again, I am a third year teacher and I am working four jobs just to pay the bills. I am exhausted. I’m mentally exhausted. I’m burned out, and a whole year of my salary is one month of our superintendent’s salary.”

Hear Sierra Gil’s comments.

John Epilito

George Hardaway

Elise Weatherly

Dennis Cane

Leslie Herman

Keith Marcher

Darla Lee

Albert Lee

Andrew Barbano

Lucille Adin

Kim Karl

Kim Jackson

John Ross

Jana Gitus

Cory Zancanella

Clifford Porter

Roger Edwards

Norris Dupre Sr.

Norris Dupre Jr.

Nathan Dupre

Melia Pukta

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