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December 18, 2014

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CCSD’s lead spokeswoman, hired under former superintendent, to leave post three months into Skorkowsky’s tenure

Pat Skorkowsky at Editorial Board Meeting

Pat Skorkowsky, Clark County School District superintendent, listens to a question during an editorial board meeting at the Las  Vegas Sun offices in Henderson June 11, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Clark County School District spokeswoman Amanda Fulkerson said Wednesday she would submit her resignation to the School Board on Aug. 22.

Fulkerson, who traded barbs in the media with the local teachers union during contract negotiations, did not give a reason for her resignation.

“After two tremendous years spent serving the students and employees of Clark County and restoring the district as the credible source of information on public education in Nevada, it's time to take my expertise to a new organization,” she said in an email.

The news came on the same day Clark County Schools Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky announced a reorganization of his administrative staff. Skorkowsky was appointed to his position in late May amid widespread support from the local teachers union.

Fulkerson, who was hired by former superintendent Dwight Jones, has been the face of the communications department for the nation's fifth-largest school system. She has been the district's official spokeswoman, announcing new school reform efforts and relaying school news to the district's 37,000 employees and the wider public.

Fulkerson took a different approach to communications than her predecessors. She worked with community partners to create buzz around the launch of new school reform efforts, such as having school principals "soar toward the stars" on the Fremont Street Experience zipline to announce the district's school rating system. Fulkerson also served as Jones' speechwriter and oversaw his Twitter and blog messages.

Fulkerson, who organized the district's annual celebration of teacher appreciation week, also was a controversial figure, often criticized by teachers union members for her remarks to the public during the contentious contract negotiations.

Click to enlarge photo

Teachers union president Ruben Murillo speaks during a Clark County School Board meeting at the Edward Greer Education Center on East Flamingo Road Wednesday, May 16, 2012. The board approved a final budget that will lay off 1,015 positions in order to balance the budget.

Nevada State Education Association President Ruben Murillo, who was the president of the Clark County teachers union during much of Fulkerson’s tenure, said union members took issue with what they perceived as Fulkerson's "negative tone" toward educators. Murillo said he also took issue with Fulkerson's use of the term "union boss" when referring to him.

"Amanda's job, which came from those higher up, was to cast the teachers union in a negative light," Murillo said. "We have a new superintendent now. It's time for a new communications director who will be a messenger of collaboration as we face the challenges facing Nevada education."

Murillo, who wished Fulkerson good luck in her future endeavors, said the union's support of Skorkowsky during the superintendent search a few months ago "had nothing to do with his personnel decisions."

Fulkerson, who was reached at home Wednesday night, dismissed her critics, arguing she was often misunderstood in her role as the School District's chief communications officer. Jones sought concessions from all employee unions in an attempt to stave off further cuts to the classroom, Fulkerson argued.

"I was correcting the misinformation that's out there (about the district)," she said. "We changed CCSD to be the trusted source of information for the community."

Fulkerson said she had received job offers, both locally and nationally, and plans to stay in communications.

Starting as one of the youngest deputy communication officers in California, Fulkerson quickly rose up through the ranks, serving as the communications director for then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and chief of staff for California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado Jr.

“I'm excited about the many opportunities ahead, and it's my hope that the community remains informed and continues to require transparency from the district and demand the better outcomes for our students that the families of Clark County deserve,” Fulkerson said.

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