An attorney from Las Vegas applied for a Nevada System of Higher Education position that offers a starting salary of $180,000 to $220,000. He claims his application was not “lawfully reviewed”. The Board of Regents is being asked to stop the process by his Employment Discrimination Lawyer in Henderson.
James Dean Leavitt, who was a member of NSHE’s Board of Regents for over 12 years and served as chairman of the board, applied for the chief of staff position but got rejected.
Christian Gabroy, his Employment Discrimination Lawyer in Henderson, wrote a seven-page letter dated October 14 to selected NSHE officials, requesting that the search process be “started anew”, and that a meeting that was scheduled on Thursday, during which that the finalists might be interviewed, should be canceled. On Tuesday, NSHE listed the meeting as “postponed”.
The complaint was filed against Joe Reynolds, who is the Chief General Counsel, Chancellor Melody Rose, and Sherry Olson, who is the Human Resources Director. Interim Chief Of Staff Keri Nikolajewski, board Chair Cathy McAdoo, and vice-chair of the board and search committee Chair Patrick Carter were also included.
Leavitt (59) claimed in the letter Nikolajewski decided he didn’t have the minimum qualifications to be considered for the job, “in order to benefit her believed preferred candidate .”
He also accused Olson, McAddo, and Carter of “unreasonable and unprofessional” conduct. He stated that they should be excluded if a new job search is launched as requested, “due to belief in bias and prejudice towards Mr. Leavitt” and possibly other people who were likely improperly excluded from the previous and current searches.
Gabroy stated that Leavitt has all the required qualifications for the job, including a minimum of 5 years of ongoing experience directly related to the position, current membership in Nevada Bar, and a Juris Doctor degree.
“Inexplicable and extremely suspect”
The attorney, Christian Gabroy, stated that it was “inexplicable” and “highly suspect” that Mr. Leavitt, who has 17 years of higher education experience and 29 years of law experience, was not considered minimally qualified when other people with no or minimal higher education experience were considered advanced.
Gabroy said Tuesday that he and his client have not received any reason from the Nevada System of Higher Education why Leavitt didn’t meet the minimum qualifications to be hired. Gabroy stated that only the best candidate should be chosen for the job, and not someone’s friend.
A spokesperson for NSHE declined to comment on Tuesday.
Carter, who is the head of the search team, stated Tuesday that it was inappropriate to comment on active searches.
After the Aug. 16 vote of 5-1 by the job search committee to “fail”, the current process was halted to increase the applicant pool. Regent Jason Geddes opposed this move, calling it unneeded.
Regent John Moran is an attorney as well and raised concerns about the meeting on Sept. 30, regarding whether the committee had broken the state Open Meeting Law by failing to provide sufficient public notice. Tina Russom, NSHE’s deputy chief counsel, said that she did not believe that this was true.
The first search resulted in 4 finalists
Olson, the HR director of the system, stated that the job was initially posted in July. It was still open until July 30. NSHE had 27 applicants for the job. Six of them met the minimum requirements, six were chosen as semifinalists, and four were deemed finalists.
Leavitt’s accusations are the latest to accuse board members of inappropriate conduct.
In an Oct. 4 memo, Rose accused Carter and McAdoo of creating a hostile work environment. Last week, the leaders of the board announced that a third party (which they didn’t identify), which is independent of the system, would investigate the allegations. However, they have not commented on its substance.
Rose’s 28-page memo referred, among other things, to warnings she received prior to taking the chancellor position at NSHE about the “Old Boys Club” environment there and asked for her help to change it.
Dean Gould retired in December 2020 from NSHE. The person who was ultimately hired to be the board’s chief-of-staff and special counsel will replace him. After telling a female regent during an August 2020 meeting, to stop using her “child talk,” he was harshly criticized before his departure.
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Read the full story on the Las Vegas Review Journal website.