Administrators broke open meeting laws when they fired longtime library manager
Pahrump library administrators admitted on Monday that they broke state laws on open meetings by placing its longtime director on paid administrative leave in June 2021, without notice.
The recognition comes nearly seven months after the Pahrump Library District Board of Trustees wrongly ousted Susan Wonderly, who had been director of the Pahrump Community Library for 20 years.
Wonderly had planned to retire, but the board abruptly severed ties with her on June 18, 2021.
In a closed-door session, administrators terminated Wonderly and voted to pay her until July 1, 2021 without allowing her to complete her final weeks at the library.
Tapes of board discussions are not subject to open meeting laws, but library administrator Kameron Mitchell said on Monday he regretted any “procedural deviations” in Wonderly’s termination.
The actions against her were not malicious, he said.
“We thought we would honor [Wonderly] for her service ”by letting her retire earlier, said administrator Dave Ochenreider.
Bill Newyear, a former library administrator, said the board was in a “state of flux” last summer following the resignation of three of its members. The new administrators had never addressed staff issues or the dismissal of a library employee.
“People weren’t sure how things were to be done,” Newyear said. “If things weren’t done right before, they’re done right now.”
On Monday, library administrators reversed a number of actions that had been improperly carried out in June 2021, including installing President John Shewalter and Vice President Brian Shoemake on the board. On Monday, a 23-point agenda aimed primarily at correcting the multiple procedural errors made by administrators last summer.
“This is a great opportunity to correct something and set it in stone,” said Shoemake of the board’s attempt to finally correct the mistakes.
But the apologies and fixes came too late for some library members, who said they did not restore their confidence in the board.
“Canceling these items now doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened,” library member Carolene Logue told the board of trustees on Monday. “It means you got caught. “
A member of the library, CJ Stevens, told the board that they had essentially “stripped Wonderly of her rights.”
It was a “flagrant violation”, she said, which was “committed behind closed doors”.
Stevens and others have publicly called on directors to step down for failing to act transparently.
The board, however, is unlikely to face fines or penalties for its failures because the statute of limitations for filing a grievance has expired.
Since June 2021, Shanna Gibbons, Deputy Director of the Library, has been Acting Director of the Library.
“I commend her for the job she has done,” Shewalter said.
The search for a permanent director is underway, but Shoemake said it has proven difficult to attract qualified candidates to Pahrump.
“We are still on the hunt,” he said. “We need people who are willing to relocate here from other communities. “
The Pahrump Library District Board of Directors is appointed by the Nye County Commission.
The five-member panel includes Kameron Mitchell, Dee Mounts, Dave Ochenreider, John Shewalter and Brian Shoemake.