LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Clark County School District Board of Trustees have spent thousands of dollars for training and retreats to try to get along on the taxpayers’ dime, the 8 News Now Investigators confirmed through public records requests.
The trustees, a seven-member elected panel, serve as the school board for the country’s fifth-largest district.
Four invoices the 8 News Now Investigators reviewed show CCSD has spent nearly $15,000 for the sessions since August 2021.
Even after the most expensive training – an $8,500 package for coaching and board self-evaluation – the infighting at board meetings and on social media continued. The invoice from March included a one-day retreat. A document filed in April highlights the sessions’ notes and recommendations.
“Working as consultants and coaches with the Clark County School Board of Trustees is a role that we are committed to for supporting the successful governance of the Clark County School District,” the memo said. “It is recommended that workshop facilitation continue for productive workshop time and that ongoing individual coaching continue to support each Trustee in realizing their full potential as a board member.”
The policy also called for trustees to “speak with one voice.”
It does not appear the sessions were successful.
“There are many issues we have interpersonally with each other,” Trustee Katie Williams said at the April meeting, “We fail to constantly address them, or we address them ineffectively.”
In May, trustees Danielle Ford and Williams had this exchange on Twitter: “I’ll go ahead and repeat what I said to you at a recent closed session: ‘Shut the f— up, Katie,’” one tweet from Ford sent to Williams said on May 25.
Williams then responded, “Posture all you like. Enjoy it while you can.”
In June, Board President Irene Cepeda held a work session explicitly focusing on board members’ social media posts. In addition to the May 25 exchange, social media posts for the first half of 2022 included examples of infighting, commenting on board matters and the spread of misinformation, a handout for the meeting said.
“I want to know what I can do to help you improve your social media habits because it’s tanking this entire organization and group dynamics,” Trustee Lola Brooks said to Ford in the meeting.
“It is insane that I spend so much time disciplining trustees when that should not be the case,” Cepeda said during the meeting.
Ford, often the most outspoken of the seven trustees, said she was elected to fight back.
“I think my interaction is just fine, in fact, that’s what I was voted for,” Ford said. “I will absolutely go on social media where I know that anybody could see it if they wanted to and speak the truth about what happened or set the record straight.”
The 8 News Now Investigators asked CCSD to contact each trustee about the board retreats and mediation sessions. Ford said she was not given the message, adding she believes the district is spending more money than the 8 News Now Investigators found through invoices.
Ford said she would rather sit and learn about district policies and education law.
“We don’t get any training on that,” Ford said. “All of our training is just, ‘Be quiet. Why are you being rude? You should be nice to the other members of the board.’”
Just last week, as the board voted 4-3 to give Superintendent Jesus Jara a $76,000 raise, the differences among the trustees could not have been more apparent.
“This board is absolutely insane,” Williams said, “It is completely off the rails. Do you think a superintendent will want to come to this district when we have constantly put ourselves on display?”
In addition to the request through CCSD to interview each trustee, the 8 News Now Investigators emailed individual trustees and did not receive responses.