Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Nevada TeenScreen Pusher Faces Ethics Charges

 
EdWatch Nevada 
Ethics to hold formal hearing against former State Board of Education member Gary Waters
July 11, 2007
by Joe Enge

As reported by Samantha Stone with KOH Radio this morning, 2 of the 4 charges Joe Enge with EdWatch Nevada filed against state board member Gary Waters in June of 2006 in trying to implement TeenScreen have been upheld to warrant a formal hearing with the Nevada Commission on Ethics in September. Waters is no longer a board member, his final term ended in December of 2006. Waters set up The Center for Health & Learning as a non-profit to implement TeenScreen. I questioned whether it is legal for a state board member to set up a non-profit and use Nevada Department of Education equipment and office.

TeenScreen is a highly controversial mental health screen that asserts it can identify students from the 5th to 12th grades who are suicidal. Critics nationally point out TeenScreen does more harm than good with their self-admitted 84% rate of false positives and makes end runs around the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment without obtaining proper, positive consent from parents. You can read details about TeenScreen on my former EdWatch Nevada Web site at: www.campaignsitebuilder.com/templates/displayfiles1/Tmpl34.asp?id=19383.

Also available at www.edwatchnevada.com  is one of the actual TeenScreen exams. Much to their chagrin, TeenScreen’s “super secret” exam is now public. The exam is listed under the heading of “Downloads.”

The two charges for setting up the non-profit were dropped. The Nevada Commission on Ethics came to the conclusion that it is legal for a non-profit, set up by a Nevada State Board of Education member, to use government equipment and offices. What’s legal is not always what’s right. I questioned also how this could be done without formal State Board of Education approval. They concluded the State Superintendent of Instruction, Keith Rheault, could do this on his own authority. They also concluded Waters did not make any money. $71,000 was awarded to the Center for Health & Learning, but he did not receive any of it.

My information shows Waters intended to start collecting money from a far larger federal grant of $1.2 million after he left office in December of 2006, the very reason he set up the non-profit. I suspect the publicity and scrutiny of my filing these Ethics charges in June of 2006 threw a monkey wrench into those plans. The federal $1.2 million grant has a table on page 29 showing a list of staff who will participate in the project with their role and level of effort. Waters is listed as director of the Center for Health & Learning and 100% FTE (full time equivalent). The center is also listed as a sub-grantee for funding. He can’t be convicted of his intentions once out of office since he was forced by these charges not to carry it out.

The Nevada Commission of Ethics did find just and sufficient cause exists to hold a hearing and render an opinion regarding whether Waters did not properly disclose his commitment, interests, or business relationship at the March, April, and June 2006 Nevada State Board of Education meetings at the time proposed standards for supplemental mental health and suicide were discussed, violating {NRS 281.501 (4)}. They also found just and sufficient cause exists to hear whether Waters acting on the same issues at these meetings violated {NRS 281.501 (2)}. The Nevada Commission on Ethics is scheduled to hear this matter on September 12, 2007 in Las Vegas at the Grant Sawyer State Building, room 4401.

Given it is legal in Nevada for non-profits to use government equipment and facilities, I think I will request an office in the Nevada Department of Education building in Carson City on behalf of EdWatch Nevada to better oversee their activities. I wonder what their reply will be.

 

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