Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2014

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Editorial: Charter OK should now be revoked

The Nevada Ethics Commission was right to find John Hawk guilty of two ethical violations for the way in which he sought approval for a charter school proposed by him and his wife. But the finding, and the imposition of a $1,000 fine, still rings hollow in our ears.

Hawk was a member of the Nevada Board of Education when the Clark County School Board, in March, rescinded its earlier approval of his charter-school application. The School Board was outraged to learn that Hawk had received waivers from his own board regarding teacher credentials and the number of instructional days.

In our view, even with Hawk abstaining, the state board was unethical in granting waivers for one of its members. After the School Board's action, Hawk again turned to his own board, asking it to approve his school. And the board again violated ethics, in our view, when it accepted his application. We also believe Hawk violated ethical standards in even approaching his board on an issue of personal interest.

On May 8 the state board gave preliminary approval to Hawk's application. This is where the story picks up with the Ethics Commission. It ruled Hawk violated ethical standards when he didn't resign immediately after this meeting. At that point, the commission ruled, the state board became the charter's school's supervising agency, and Hawk's continued membership created a conflict. Hawk didn't resign until July 28, moments after the board granted his charter school full approval. The commission also ruled that Hawk committed a second violation by not informing his colleagues on the board that he had already received a federal grant to run the school.

As it stands, Hawk has two ethical violations on his record and a bill for a thousand dollars. But he has his charter and his school is up and running, with taxpayers' money flowing into his hands. In our view, considering it was granted amid ethical violations, the state board's approval of Hawk's charter school should be revoked.

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