Move over Worlds of Fun, this past Monday’s formal censure meeting for Trustee Jeff Church had more stomach churning drops than any roller coaster on the market. It was nine hours of verbose finger pointing and pent up aggression, with a 1:00 am outcome that surprised the few remaining spectators. The 4-2 final vote stated "The Board of Trustees continues the discussion as it relates to how the Trustees can compromise to work better as a team." For many attendees, it felt like we were watching a team building exercise gone wrong. A public airing of grievances that could (should!) have been handled privately. Escalation to a very long and public meeting was a disgrace to our students and community. A waste.
First Agenda Item: Whoops - Did We Break a Law?
The meeting had only two agenda points. The first was to address whether an Open Meeting Law (OML) violation took place when Trustee Church accused the WCSD Chief Counsel, Neil A Rombardo, of knowing beforehand that Jacqueline Calvert lived outside the district prior to the September 28th Board meeting. The potential violation also came when President Angie Taylor allowed discussion on the matter. Per NRS 241.033, it essentially says you can’t call someone out for misconduct or attack a character without prior written notification to that individual.
The district hired an independent law office, Gunderson Law, to investigate who knew what and when. The district posted the entire report just minutes before the meeting was to start. The report essentially cleared Chief Counsel Rombardo of all accusations of knowing beforehand that Trustee Calvert lived outside her district. It did indicate that Trustee Church may have bumbled the handover of Bruce Park’s research on Calvert’s residency to the district. One point of disgust that was made clear by Church’s team was that the investigation failed to contact Calvert to contribute to the investigation. We will spare you the hours of back and forth and the heated public comments on this agenda item. Suffice it to say, it felt like a playground spat that was funded by taxpayer dollars. The Board voted 4-2 to accept Gunderson Law’s independent investigation.
Second Agenda Item - He Said. She Said!
The final agenda point was to explore a formal censure of Trustee Jeff Church. President Taylor brought forth evidence that Trustee Church had violated many Board Policies revolving around decorum, unity with the board and spreading perceived falsehoods. A normally calm and collected President Taylor, forgot to use her indoor voice when she layed out her case against Church. It was obvious that months of pent up anger and frustration was spewing out in full public view.
Church then had 20 minutes to rebut President Taylor’s accusation with his outside counsel. Essentially, they indicated her accusations were hypocritical and provided evidence of times when she herself broke the same Board Policies. It was then left to public comment and Board deliberation. Trustee Church started the meeting with at least a 100 members of the public present to defend his character in public comment. Hours and hours whittled that support down, but he still had a strong showing for his consistent contribution to the Board. Many indicated the Board was only intent on punishing him because he is the lone conservative voice. Many of the public came holding signs that said “Kangaroo Court”.
The Cliff Hanger Conclusion
Much deliberation was made by the Board of Trustees and many found it unfair that President Taylor was allowed to moderate the discussion. The public pointed out in comments that she should recuse herself. Trustee Nicolet spent what felt like hours trying to create a motion of compromise. Finally, it was put out for a vote that "The Board of Trustees continues the discussion as it relates to how the Trustees can compromise to work better as a team." The vote passed 4 - 2. Vice President Minetto and President Taylor were the two dissenting votes.
The moral of this story is that our Board is lacking cohesive leadership. The rifts are so ghastly that we were forced to witness nine hours of infighting. What if they called a special meeting and spent nine hours focusing on how the district is going to fix our horrific academic performance? Here is to hoping the Board can collectively put on it's big girl panties and bury the hatchet so that we can get back to the real problems in our district.