CCSD board continues Levinski's hearing

Noel Lyn Smith

SHIPROCK — The Central Consolidated School District Board of Education decided today to reconvene next month for a special meeting to continue a discharge hearing for Superintendent Don Levinski.

Attorney Eleanor K. Bratton speaks on behalf of Central Consolidated School District Superintendent Don Levinski, seated, Tuesday during Levinski's discharge hearing at the Shiprock boardroom for the Central Consolidated School District.

Board President Randy Manning, Vice President Adam Begaye, Secretary Christina J. Aspaas and member Ruthda Thomas voted in favor of continuing the hearing at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10.

Member Charlie Jones Jr. did not attend today's special board meeting in the district's boardroom in Shiprock.

Andrew Sanchez, the attorney representing the school board, said in an interview after the special meeting that board members took care of preliminary issues and listened to testimony from one witness during the hearing.

The board's case is being presented by Albuquerque attorney Sam Adams.

The decision to continue the hearing in November was due to the schedules of Levinski, board members, attorneys and witnesses, he said.

"He is entitled to these hearing rights, and so they’re giving it to him," Sanchez said.

Levinski, who was present at Tuesday's meeting, declined to comment after the hearing and referred questions to his attorney, Eleanor K. Bratton. In an interview after the hearing, Bratton said her client was OK with continuing with the proceedings.

Central Consolidated School District school board President Randy Manning, Secretary Christina J. Aspaas and board Member Ruthda Thomas confer Tuesday during a discharge hearing for Superintendent Don Levinski in the Shiprock boardroom.

Since Levinski was placed on paid administrative leave on Aug. 18, 2015, Bratton has advocated for the superintendent to receive a discharge hearing.

"If the board had cause, they had to have known about that cause in August 2015 when they first tried to terminate him," she said. "So it feels a little frustrating because the charges against him kind of keep evolving beyond that which the board knew or should have known in August 2015."

She added the board should have brought up any issues before it offered and approved a three-year contract for Levinski in early 2015.

Board members extended Levinski's contract in January 2015 to June 30, 2018, and his salary remained at $125,000 per year, according to The Daily Times archives.

Shortly after starting the special meeting, Manning, Begaye, Aspaas and Thomas each voted in favor of holding the discharge hearing behind closed doors.

Prior to entering into executive session, Manning asked Levinski and Bratton if they wanted the hearing open to the public.

"We would like it closed," Bratton said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.