Nevada education official resigns due to conflict
LAS VEGAS – Nevada Board of Education member John Hawk unexpectedly resigned Wednesday, just minutes after his colleagues gave final approval to a charter high school he co-founded with his wife.
Hawk said he had “no other option” given an opinion issued in November by the state Ethics Commission that it would be a conflict of interest for him to keep his seat.
“It pains me, it tears me apart, but I firmly believe it’s the right thing to do,” Hawk told the board members and audience assembled for a special meeting at a Nevada Department of Education office.
Hawk’s resignation won’t affect a pending investigation by the Ethics Commission. The commission announced July 16 it wanted to determine whether Hawk had committed ethics violations by using his elected position to get preferential treatment or by ignoring the November opinion that he should resign.
State Board of Education President Gary Waters said he was “shocked and saddened” by Hawk’s resignation.
“I had no idea this was coming, no idea whatsoever,” Waters said. “I think it’s the wrong decision. John isn’t on the governing body of the charter school, and there was no conflict of interest. I don’t believe we treated him or the (Nevada State High School) charter application differently from anybody else.”
Hawk had put off resigning from the board even after Nevada State High School received preliminary approval from the state Board of Education. He said last month that he was backing away from the duties of co-founder and leaving the daily operations to his wife.
Hawk had no opponents this year in his campaign for re-election. Gov. Kenny Guinn is expected to appoint a replacement.
Wendi Hawk is scheduled to begin her job as an assistant principal in the Clark County School District next week, but John Hawk said his wife will likely put in for a yearlong leave of absence.
The state education board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve converting the application from preliminary to full charter status, enabling the Hawks’ school to move ahead with plans to begin classes Aug. 16.