East denies request for jump drive

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By David Giuliani

The Las Vegas City Schools has denied the Las Vegas Optic’s request to examine materials that may have led to the suspension of Superintendent Rick Romero.

Last week, the superintendent was placed on a seven-day suspension in connection with a violation of the district’s computer-use policy.

On Tuesday, the Optic requested to look at a jump drive that allegedly contains materials that could have resulted in the superintendent’s suspension. A jump drive is a tiny data storage device.

Late Tuesday night, Associate Superintendent LeeEtte Quintana, who is the acting superintendent, rejected the Optic’s request, contending the disclosure of the materials was not required under the state Inspection of Public Records Act.

“The records were not used, created or received, maintained or held by or on behalf of the Board of Education and do not relate to public business,” she wrote.

“Moreover, the materials you have requested are private property inadvertently brought onto school property and are not maintained by the school district,” she said.

District officials have not gone into the specifics about the allegation against Romero, who took the helm in July 2008.

He is expected to be away from work until Nov. 30, combining his suspension with some vacation time, officials said.

Romero hasn’t returned calls for comment. The school district’s attorney, Ramon Vigil, couldn’t be reached Wednesday.

The computer-use allegation comes on the heels of a firestorm of controversy surrounding an unexpected 30 percent tax increase in the East district. Some residents have called for heads to roll because of that tax hike.

This isn’t the first time Romero has gotten into hot water over computer use.

In 2005, an allegation surfaced that Romero had inappropriate pictures on his computer while he was superintendent of the Lordsburg school district  in southwestern New Mexico.

After a school board investigation of the matter, however, Romero was cleared.

Romero told the Optic a couple of years ago that he believed that a Lordsburg employee disgruntled with personnel changes placed the photos — which Romero and others described as women in bathing suits — on his computer.
Romero resigned amid the controversy.