LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Clark County School District has made some noticeable changes to its public comment period during school board meetings.
The changes include a restriction on who can speak, what can be said, and if the comments can be seen online.
Viewers who tune in online are no longer able to see the person speaking at the Greer Education Center during public comments.
The Clark County School District Board of Trustees began making changes last year.
Instead, viewers now see a gray slate that reads “public comment.”
“The school board, they don’t really believe in transparency, and they’ve lost a lot of trust with the public,” Brandon Summers, a substitute teacher for CCSD, said. “They should be working to regain that trust. But they keep doing things that do the opposite of that by essentially covering our faces during the public comment period.”
Summers said he brings his own camera equipment to board meetings.
“The public should know what’s going on and if they’re not going to show it. I’m going to have to capture it myself,” he added.
Summers was at last Thursday’s trustee meeting as community members offered their take regarding last month’s incident between a school police officer and a student at Durango High School.
National Action Network President Robert Bush, who also attended, accused trustees of being tone-deaf to the community.
“They’re trying to limit our voices, when they should be trying to give us greater access, and they most certainly have their priorities out of order,” Bush said.
In a statement to 8 News Now, CCSD said the change was made in June of 2022 to “streamline the business being conducted” and “curtail harassment, bullying, and negative audience interactions.”
A month before that decision, an interaction went viral between the Board of Trustees and parent Candra Evans.
“I don’t like your d***. I don’t like your d***,” Evans read to board members. It was an excerpt she claims her 15-year-old daughter had to memorize.
“If you don’t want me to read it to you, what was it like for my 15-year-old daughter to have memorized pornographic material?” Evans said.
Evans filed a federal lawsuit against the district late last year.
During a work session on Wednesday, trustees debated a policy adopted in August of 2022 that set boundaries around public comments.
“They have a right to be able to do public comment. If we are strangling that and suppressing any opportunity for them to do that, I believe our present policy is doing just that,” Trustee Linda Cavazos said.
CCSD Board President Evelyn Garcia Morales pushed back against any notion the district is silencing the community.
“Accusing us of not giving constituents who come to board meetings voices, and I just want to be mindful of the fact that that is not accurate,” Morales said.
The board was deadlocked on rolling back the public comment policies with a 3-to-3 vote.
Linda Cavazos, Lisa Guzman, and Brenda Zamora voted yes to reconsider the policy. On the other hand, Evelyn Garcia Morales, Lola Brooks, and Katie Williams voted no.
The vote was even because trustee Irene Bustamente Adams, who would’ve provided the tie-breaking vote, did not attend.
We are waiting for a response from CCSD on why Bustamente Adams wasn’t present.
For a link to CCSD’s public comment policy click HERE.