RENO — The Washoe County School District has fired Superintendent Pedro Martinez with little explanation — and much to the surprise of Reno city officials who embraced his hiring two years ago.
The district announced in a statement late Tuesday that Martinez had been “relieved of his duties” effective immediately. It said the district’s board of trustees “are in discussions with Mr. Martinez, and for legal reasons, we cannot share specific details.”
Martinez, who helped shepherd the district through a deadly schoolyard shooting and had taken a lead role in pushing tax increases to boost education spending, said he believes he was terminated unfairly in a dispute over his resume.
He said the board claimed he misrepresented his credentials as a certified public accountant, despite the fact he provided documentation proving he passed the CPA exam.
“I was accused of something that is basically untrue,” Martinez told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “They accused me of lying about being a licensed CPA. I am shocked. I am heartbroken at the same time.”
Martinez said he is speaking to an attorney. His annual salary was $238,000, and his four-year contract ran through July 31, 2016.
Martinez served as the deputy superintendent of the Clark County school district before topping five candidates to take the helm of the 63,000-student district in August 2012.
Board President Barbara Clark said that while the trustees consider their options, the district will be led by Traci Davis, the deputy superintendent who will be in charge of educational matters, and by Kristen McNeill, the district’s chief of staff who will oversee operations. Board members plan to meet soon to discuss a search for a permanent replacement, Clark said.
Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said he was caught off guard by the firing.
“I am very surprised,” Cashell said. “I thought Pedro was doing a good job.”
Reno City Manager Andrew Clinger said he, too, was “very surprised.”
The Gazette-Journal reported in Wednesday’s editions that six of the seven board members voted to terminate Martinez during a public workshop Tuesday, but no agenda items specified such a decision was going to be made during that meeting.
Estella Gutierrez was the only board member who was not at the workshop. She said late Tuesday she was “blindsided” by the decision.
“I’m in shock,” Gutierrez said. “He’s done a great job.”
Martinez pushed Assembly Bill 46 through the 2013 Nevada Legislature, which ultimately asked the Washoe County Commission to increase sales and property taxes for school repairs. The proposal never came to a vote and died.
He also led the response to the fatal schoolyard shooting and personally welcomed students back to Sparks Middle School in October after 12-year-old Jose Reyes killed a teacher and wounded two classmates before committing suicide.