The Washoe County School District administration building on East Ninth Street was vandalized with red paint overnight or in the early morning hours today, much as Sparks City Hall was in mid-July.
Twitter user Christopher Torres posted images of the building and sidewalks covered in splashes of red paint and the words “No Justice” in black spray paint across the building’s facade.
By 9:45 a.m. the mess was largely cleaned up, and a building maintenance worker was power-washing the remaining red paint away.
The school district issued a brief statement on the vandalism, noting that maintenance staff had to be rerouted from a school site to repair the damage. The statement continued on, shifting focus toward the first day of in-person learning for the school year:
“Today is an exciting and positive day as children return to their physical and virtual classrooms. That is the focus of today, and not the misguided efforts of someone wanting to make their voice heard through property damage. Public feedback and opinion are very important to WCSD. Members of the community have many ways to express their views, opinions, and feedback, and that input is always welcome,” the statement concluded.
This Is Reno inquired whether security cameras mounted on the outside of the building were operational, but was told by WCSD Public Information Officer Victoria Campbell that the information in the press release is all that is available at this time.
It is assumed the act was in response to the district telling teachers and staff to not openly support Black Lives Matter on school time. Staff were reminded by the district they do not have free speech rights “as part of their official duties.”
The district then sent the following statement to the news media:
Our District community, much like our national community, holds a variety of political viewpoints and, in some instances those viewpoints are in conflict. We have an obligation to accommodate and welcome students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds. We are also entering into an election season. As a result, the District issued clarifications in a Newsletter to Principals on the limits to Freedom of Speech as it applies to both our staff and our students. With regard to staff members, though they are free to engage in political speech in their personal life, it is important that all of our students and families feel welcome and appreciated regardless of their political viewpoints in our schools and office buildings. As a result, the District has Board Policy 1310 in place which prohibits political activity for staff while on duty; importantly our teachers are able to present current events and curriculum pertaining to national issues in a balanced and fair manner. For our students we celebrate their rights to free speech as long as the speech is not profane, obscene, promoting illegal drug use, or considered hate speech.
WCSD has also faced criticism in recent months for renaming the former Hug High School for late State Senator Debbie Smith rather than Dolores Feemster, who worked as a counselor at Hug High School for nearly four decades and was a prominent member of the Black community.
This Is Reno reporter Don Dike-Anukam visited the WCSD administrative offices this morning to report at the scene.