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Douglas County School District (Photo: @DCSD Facebook)

Douglas County School Board Expected to Fire Legal Counsel, Retain Joey Gilbert

As the board proposes to protect female and male sports, the trustees seek new counsel

By Megan Barth, July 13, 2023 12:36 pm

The Globe has been chronicling the tea brewing in Douglas County which includes the newly elected school Board of Trustees, the Nevada ACLU, and the parents and students of a rural county school district.

As we reported, fireworks came early in Douglas County when the appointed Superintendent Keith Lewis published a meeting agenda that highlighted a “transgender policy” that the Board was proposing. During the seven-hour contentious meeting, the ACLU threatened to sue the small district should the board members pass a policy that would designate sports and private spaces to biological female and male athletes.

Since that time, no formal vote has been taken on the policy, likely due to the fact that the board is now seeking new counsel.

According to the recently published agenda, the board will convene during a special meeting on July 19th to fire and replace current legal counsel with Attorney Joey Gilbert’s law firm.

The Douglas County School Board’s special agenda (Photo: Douglas County)

Additional controversy surrounds the district and the Superintendent in relation to the hiring of teacher Michael Ismari.

Joey Gilbert is currently involved in a civil lawsuit against the Washoe County School District that names Michael Ismari in the complaint and alleges that Ismari, while employed by the district, abused and bullied a student (plaintiff) and was the subject of numerous district-investigations during his tenure.

Arrest record of Michael Ismari (Photo: DCSO)

The Globe learned that Ismari was then employed by the Douglas County school district, in spite of these allegations and investigations, through a tip from a concerned parent. Earlier this month, Ismari was arrested and jailed for stalking a woman he had previously been dating. The Globe additionally learned that Ismari had a record of stalking and restraining order violations dating back to 1998.

When the Globe asked the district how Ismari passed a background check, the Executive Director of Human Resources, Joseph Girdner, did not reply directly to our inquiry. In a written statement, Girdner said:

Douglas County School District is deeply concerned to learn about the recent arrest of one of our teachers, Michael Ismari, for allegations of stalking.The safety and well-being of our students and staff members are of paramount importance to us, and we are taking this matter very seriously.

We have initiated an internal investigation and are fully cooperating with local law enforcement. The teacher in question has been immediately placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the legal process. DCSD hired Mr. Ismari mid-year under a one-year-only critical shortage contract and had no knowledge of any allegations about his alleged misconduct while employed by a different school district.

On the contrary, the information we received was that Mr. Ismari retired on good terms with the other school district and was eligible to be rehired. We understand that incidents like these can be distressing to the community, and we want to reassure parents, students, and staff members that we remain dedicated to providing a safe and supportive learning environment.

The Globe will cover the special meeting scheduled at 10 am on July 19 and will provide an update. At the time of publishing, attempts to reach Joey Gilbert or Board President Susan Jansen were unsuccessful.



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Megan Barth
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