Community members responded with outrage yesterday after allegations of stalking and operating sockpuppet social media accounts by Washoe County School District Trustee were reported by This Is Reno.
The petition demands Kelley resign. Kelley reportedly told Joe Hart of KRNV last night that he would not.
The petition reiterates some of the article’s findings about Kelley:
- He tracked and stalked his wife making misogynistic comments that she could not be trusted to make her own decisions.
- He met random people from the internet for sex, potentially putting his family in harm’s way.
- He retaliated against constituents who disagreed with him and spoke out about his voting record by calling their direct supervisors at their place of employment to discipline them.
- He threatened his wife and family in multiple emails.
Many reading the story called Kelley’s behavior disturbing. His social media accounts appear to have been deleted.
“As an elected public official the [Board of Trustees] should be held to a high level of moral standards,” a commenter wrote. “If this article had been written about a teacher, I have no doubt what would have happened.”
A local rabbi said she was furious at Kelley claiming to be Jewish as a reason for being offended at being called a bigot.
“In our tradition, we call people who act like this a ‘shande fur die goyim,’ referring to a Jew who embarrasses us before non-Jews by calling himself a Jew and then engaging in bad behavior,” Rabbi Sara Zober tweeted.
Trustee-elect Kurt Thigpen posted the following on social media:
After hearing from many of my future constituents, I can’t remain silent on this. The allegations made in the court documents reported on by This Is Reno regarding Trustee Scott Kelley’s behavior are deeply disturbing to me. The lack of ethical judgement on Mr. Kelley’s part is unbecoming of the office he holds, and our 64,000 students of the Washoe County School District deserve better representation than he has to offer. Aside from the personal allegations, the alleged abuse of power reported on from folks who say they have experienced retaliation from Mr. Kelley in one form or another is unacceptable. We as elected officials must always be held to a higher standard, and held accountable to our constituents.”
Thigpen called upon Kelley to resign.
Many said the School Board of Trustees have been complicit with Kelley, and that they knew about recent allegations.
“Clearly, WCSD’s ‘CEO’ Kristin McNeill [sic] has known about Kelley’s abhorrent behavior for some time, had already consulted her PR team for a response, and was ready with [a] canned statement,” said Bob Fulkerson with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. “It’s a cosign onto dysfunctional behavior and demonstrates the lowest common denominator ethos of the district.”
School District refuses to comment
The school district sent a statement last night to the news media saying it would not comment on the allegations.
“The Washoe County School District has no comment on the personal life of Trustee Scott Kelley,” the statement read. “We will not be distracted by these reports in the media. Our focus is, and always will be, teaching and learning for our 64,000 students and more than 8,000 staff members.”
The district in 2016, however, commented on the behavior of then-Trustee Nick Smith, who was accused of misconduct with a student at a private business.
“The alleged misconduct did not involve his role as a Trustee nor did it involve district property, but it allegedly involves a high school student,” said Trustee Angela Taylor. “As a result, the District took immediate steps to prohibit Mr. Smith’s access to the high school and the student. Mr. Smith was invited to a meeting with me and legal counsel at which he informed us that he is resigning. He subsequently submitted his resignation, and I accepted his resignation [effective] immediately.”
Rachel Fisher, who started the petition, called the district’s response to allegations against Kelley appalling.
“This response is appalling, especially as protecting vulnerable children from potential abuse is being used by the district as a rationale to keep schools open,” she said. “Additionally, the elements listed above are NOT elements of one’s personal life, especially of a member of an elected office representing the public interest.
“When you threaten women and children, and when you call the supervisors of your constituents for disagreeing with you, you are no longer just affecting your own personal life; you are negatively affecting the public.”
UPDATE: This story was updated to include a statement from school board trustee candidate Kurt Thigpen.
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor, and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011, where he completed a dissertation on social media, journalism and crisis communications. In addition to managing This Is Reno, he holds a part-time research appointment for the Mineral County University of Nevada Extension office.