Should some parents and teachers play a role in picking principals, approve school budgets?

A bill introduced Wednesday to the Senate Committee on Education is intended to give some parents and teachers in Nevada more say.
Published: Apr. 6, 2023 at 10:38 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Who should have a say in the election of a school principal? Who should approve a principal’s budget for their school? A bill introduced Wednesday to the Senate Committee on Education is intended to give some parents and teachers in Nevada more say.

“We want parents involved... currently, we are not empowering those parents,” argued State Senator Rochelle Nguyen, sponsor of SB 282.

“My kids were lucky and fortunate enough to start their elementary school education in our Clark County public schools. They attended a 5-star elementary school,” Nguyen shared. When a new principal came in, Nguyen says everything changed and she pulled her daughter out.

“It was heartbreaking to see what happened next… Their school lost about 80 percent of its teachers in that first year... Their school rating plummeted from 5 stars to 3 stars in a year,” Nguyen revealed.

Nguyen said her husband was on the School Organizational Team or “SOT,” a group made up of elected parents, teachers, support staff and sometimes community members.

“They participated in interviews, they interviewed several candidates, and the SOT members were unified in their opinion about those candidates... The person that was recommended last on their list,” Nguyen said of the hired principal.

Nguyen’s bill empowering SOTs would give them a say in the selection of a new principal with the ability to reject the superintendent’s choice. It would also give them the power to approve school budgets with 75 percent of SOT approval required.

While CCEA, the state’s largest teachers’ union spoke in support of the new bill, both CCSD and the Clark County Association of School Administrators spoke against it.

“This simply creates unneeded red tape and layers of bureaucracy,” said Jeff Horn, Executive Director of the Clark County Association of School Administrators.

Senator Dina Neal also said she did not support the bill expressing concern SOTs may not fully understand the intricacies of running the school and may stand in the way of a principal who does.

“Mainly because the liability still falls on the leader, the principal of the school, not the SOT members who might make a decision about the money,” Neal argued.

Back in 2015, there was a push to break up CCSD as critics said it had grown too large with too much power given to district administrators. Two years later, a law was passed giving schools and principals more power to make decisions. Supporters of SB 282 say the new bill would strengthen that autonomy.