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Axed Nevada College officials launch complaint, lawsuit.

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- The demotion of two Community College of Southern Nevada officials by Nevada university regents has spawned a lawsuit, open meetings and whistleblower complaints and demands for the release of a key 1,000-page report.

Ousted college President Ron Remington filed a whistle-blower complaint earlier this month. Removed college lobbyist John Cummings filed a lawsuit against regents, and Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, asked state Attorney General Brian Sandoval whether the board had violated the state's open meeting law. Giunchigliani is a college employee.

A group of regents also scheduled a reconsideration this month of the board's 7-6 vote to remove Remington.

Remington, Cummings and Giunchigliani were discussed during a two-day closed board session that culminated Nov. 20 with the demotions of Remington and Cummings to faculty positions, officials said. A move not to renew Giunchigliani's contract failed.

During those meetings, regents heard a report from a private investigator hired to look into the treatment of CCSN employee Topazia "Briget" Jones, an acquaintance of embattled Assemblyman Wendell Williams, D-Las Vegas.

Cummings hired Jones in January to a $21,000-per-year clerical trainee job, and she made frequent trips to Carson City during the 2003 Legislature. where she wore a jacket identifying herself as Williams' personal aide.

Jones fell into disfavor with Cummings and was ordered to stay in Las Vegas, where college officials moved to tire her.

Williams allegedly intervened, telling Chancellor Jane Nichols that Jones was being harassed. Nichols halted termination proceedings and granted Jones whistle-blower status.

Jones then accused supervisors, including Cummings and Remington, of working with Williams to make the college a four-year institution without the blessing of Nichols or regents.

In Remington's whistle-blower complaint, he said he "supported the managerial decision to tire a non-per forming probationary employee and did not agree with the chancellor's reversal of that firing."

"I was fired for what I believe was the right thing to do." Remington said at the Las Vegas office of his lawyer. Kathy England.

Cummings' attorney, Frank Cremen, is seeking a restraining order letting Cummings keep his administrative position. Cremen said the board violated Nevada's open-meeting law and that Cummings should have been allowed to attend the closed meeting to respond to discussion about his character and alleged misconduct.

Regents are also facing criticism from Regent Mark Alden. the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Nevada Press Association about possible open-meeting law violations.

Remington, in his first interview since his demotion, said he was blind-sided by his demotion.

He described the regents as a "lynch mob," saying he was not given an opportunity to defend himself.

"I had no idea," he told the Review-Journal. "I've spent 35 years developing a reputation in higher education."

College faculty and students have protested Remington's demotion. The Faculty Senate al Great Basin College in Elko passed a unanimous resolution asking regents to reconsider. Remington was president of Great Basin College for 12 years before being hired at the Community College of Southern Nevada.

England, Remington's lawyer, said she wants a copy of the 1,000-page report to regents from Walter Ayers, the assistant general counsel for the University and Community College System of Nevada.

Ayers could not be reached by the Review-Journal for comment. But in a confidential fax to several attorneys, he said the report will not be made public under the state's open-records law because the personnel session was deemed confidential.

The university system did not immediately respond to a written request by the Review-Journal to release the report.

Regent Steve Sisolak submitted to Nichols a demand for the report and the minutes of the closed meeting. Sisolak voted against Remington's removal as president and has pushed for reconsideration. He said he wants to review the documents before the regents' next meeting.

Giunchigliani's complaint alleges that regents violated state law in seeking to punish her as a college employee for actions she took as a legislator.

She said she was informed that several regents discussed a bill she introduced during the 2003 session that would require members of the board of regents to be appointed, not elected.

"The Regents also discussed some language I had written for a bill regarding the college offering a bachelor's degree," Giunchigliani said in a letter to state Attorney General Brian Sandoval. "They came out of closed session and voted on whether they would remove me by not renewing my contract because of my activity as a legislator."
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Title Annotation:around the nation
Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1U8NV
Date:Dec 22, 2003
Previous Article:Coming events.
Next Article:Clark Kerr, champion of affordable higher education, dies.

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