Gov. Kenny Guinn said Tuesday the Board of Regents should have given former college president Ron Remington and lobbyist John Cummings their day in court.
The two have been at the center of a controversy since regents voted to demote the two to faculty positions at the Community College of Southern Nevada. Regents made the move after nearly two days of closed-door hearings without allowing the two to attend the meeting, review the evidence against them or present their side of the story.
"I just think that everybody needs an opportunity for a fair hearing - to be heard," Guinn said. "It's very important people understand they have rights to answer their accusers even if they are at-will employees."
Remington was removed from the presidency on a 7-6 vote. The vote against Cummings was nine in favor of demotion.
Regents Jack Schofield, Bret Whipple and Tom Kirkpatrick said in a memo this week they voted for the demotions because Remington and Cummings circumvented board authority by requesting funding from the Legislature that wasn't part of the system budget proposal and by giving friends preferential treatment in hiring and promotions at the community college.
The Nov. 20 decision followed Remington's decision to fire Briget Jones, who described herself as a special assistant to Assemblyman Wendell Williams, D-North Las Vegas.
She claimed protection as a whistleblower when her job was threatened and told Chancellor Jane Nichols as well as investigators that Remington and Cummings had pushed their own agenda to make CCSN a four-year school and pump money into it beyond the amounts in the university system budget.
Remington and Cummings have both denied the allegations and protested the fact they weren't allowed to see the evidence against them or to present their side before the vote. At least two regents - Mark Alden and Steve Sisolack - raised the same objections and voted against the demotions for that reason.
Guinn on Tuesday supported the argument, saying even a probationary employee deserves an explanation and a chance to state his or her side of the case before being demoted or terminated.
He said it's especially hard to understand in the case of someone like Remington who is a longtime executive officer in the university system, including stints as president not only at CCSN but Great Basin College in Elko.
"I know he should have his day in court to sit down and explain the reason," Guinn said.