Former regent charged
The Sparks city attorney’s office on June 5 brought two charges against University of Nevada, Reno art professor Howard Rosenberg, a former Nevada regent and Washoe County school board member. They stemmed from an April 3 incident at Dilworth Middle School.
The complaints allege that Rosenberg, while making an official visit to Dilworth as part of supervision of a UNR student teacher, disciplined a student without authority. They also charged Rosenberg with trespass. The complaint says he “willfully remained” on the property after being warned not to trespass, but other sources say he was at the school on official business and signed in and was welcomed when he arrived.
In an interview with KRNV News, student Luis Medina said, “He pulled my ear right here”—Medina took hold of his ear above the earlobe—“and after that he pulled my sweater right here and made me get up and he took me to the office. And he told me if I wanted to live to the age of 14 I better plant it or sit down.” Medina also quoted Rosenberg as saying, “Shut the fuck up.”
At his June 13 trial, Rosenberg’s attorney Robert Fahrendort gave a different account. He said Rosenberg observed students allegedly playing shuffleboard with a pair of scissors on a table. He intervened to halt the hazardous activity and took Medina to the principal’s office.
Sparks City Attorney Chet Adams said that “the allegation is that Rosenburg pulled the student by the ear to the office.” Rosenberg attorney Robert Fahrendorf responded, “Said statement is incorrect. Without any qualification, Mr. Rosenberg did not take the child by the ear to the office.”
News reports, all apparently derived from Adams’ statements, used different kinds of verbiage to say that Rosenberg allegedly took the student to the principal’s office by the ear—“led the child by the ear to the office” (KRNV), “walking a 13-year-old student to the principal’s office by his ear” (Associated Press), “grabbing a 13-year-old student by the ear” (KOLO), “pulled a 13-year-old student by the ear while taking him to the principal’s office” (RG-J).
Adams declined to say whether there was video footage of any of the incident: “I’m not at liberty to discuss the evidence in the case at this point of the proceedings.”
Fahrendorf said, “It is my understanding that there is no video from the classroom. There is video of the hallways of the school and of what appears to be the area adjoining the principal’s office. The videos … show Mr. Rosenberg and the student exit the classroom, walk down each hallway and enter the area of the principal’s office. At no time on the videos does Mr. Rosenberg touch the student.”
At Rosenberg’s June 13 trial, he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to a $500 fine on each charge and court administrative fees. Wearing dark glasses from two eye surgeries last week, he remained silent while Fahrendorf spoke for him. Medina and his mother were in the courtroom and were given a chance to comment but chose to remain silent.
Several well wishers attended the trial and greeted Rosenberg when he entered the courtroom.
The complaints against Rosenberg were signed by senior assistant city attorney Thomas R.C. Wilson III, who conducted the investigation.
Following the trial, Rosenberg returned to UNR. The 82-year old professor submitted retirement papers later in the day. When he steps down, he will have taught for 50 years at UNR and 55 years altogether. He is a familiar figure in the community in part because he spent many years as a film critic on KTVN News. He has also been a consultant to the U.S. Army during summer periods.