This article contains adult language and situations that may not be appropriate for everyone. This Is Reno would normally not report about domestic disputes; in this case, School Board Trustee Scott Kelley is an elected official as well as a public employee as spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Corrections. Court documents in this dispute were determined by a local judge to be matters of public interest. Allegations in court records, as well as Kelley’s own documented actions, have raised expressions of alarm by those in the education community.
Washoe County School Board Trustee Scott Kelley filed for divorce in June. Public filings in the case, as well as posts on social media, reveal a history of behaviors by Kelley that some are calling disgusting and inappropriate and his wife says are oppressive and threatening.
A temporary protective order for domestic violence was filed alleging Kelley placed GPS tracking units in his wife’s vehicles, followed her to Lake Tahoe and secretly took pictures of her with a lover after the couple allegedly agreed to separate. The order was ultimately denied by a judge, however.
Court documents filed by his wife allege Kelley has sex with strippers he finds on Craigslist, Instagram and dating apps. He allegedly is into 18-plus “teen” porn, allegedly threatened to beat and kill his wife, and is alleged to have put one child in harm’s way, according to his spouse’s attorney.
Kelley and his attorney denied many but not all of the allegations in papers filed with Washoe District Court.
What is alleged
This Is Reno requested candidate biographies earlier this year for our page featuring local candidates running for offices in the November election. Kelley sent his candidate profile to us in April. In it, he said he was “happily married.”
That wasn’t true. Court documents filed since April show Kelley and his wife discussed separating in January. Kelley wrote, “the marriage was not healthy.” His attorney said the couple “had a rocky relationship for years and discussed the possibility of divorce in January 2020.”
Kelley filed for divorce in early June. A week later, his wife filed for a temporary protection order against him for alleged domestic violence.
“[Kelley] fails to acknowledge that he has sought to dictate whom [his wife] may, and may not, see after the parties effectively ended their romantic relationship months ago,” his wife’s attorney wrote. “He has also called her a ‘piece of shit’ 3 times in front of the parties’ oldest child while drunk, and told her that she was, ‘…lucky I didn’t beat the shit out of you or kill you and the kids because that is what most husbands do.’”
Kelley acknowledged he “may have said some unkind things…[but] was never threatening.” He called his wife’s allegations, “just that, allegations.”
Kelley’s wife said she was stalked and harassed by Kelley for weeks. Kelley denied the stalking and said placing GPS tracking units in her vehicles was not against the law. He said he placed the trackers in her cars because he believed “she was putting herself in dangerous situations.”
Kelley acknowledged having an extramarital relationship with a stripper.
“She and I got together…once every couple of weeks for quick sex,” he wrote.
His wife, in court documents, said he’d been “shopping on craigslist [sic] for sex, hooking up with people on Tinder, Instagram and Adult Friend Finder. Looking at ‘teen’ porn, that you state you look at things that are ‘18 years or older’ when the title has the word ‘teen in it’” [sic].
Kelley was accused of acting aggressively involving one of the couple’s children.
“The most recent confrontation took place July 15, 2020, when Mr. Kelley forced his way into [his wife’s] room…Mr. Kelley confronted her about his missing flash drive, falsely accusing [his wife] of having taken it, all while in the presence of the parties’ two children,” the wife’s attorney alleged. “Mr. Kelley intentionally placed [one of the children] in the middle of this altercation…”
“Also you have mentioned that you have a temper and that is alarming with your statements as well as when you have thrown [the child] on the bed in anger instead of disciplining him,” Kelley’s wife alleged. “If [the child] is injured, you would be arrested for child abuse.”
Kelley’s wife’s attorney called his behavior “inappropriate, harassing and oppressive.”
Kelley said he was never threatening or abusive. He accused his wife of blackmail, saying her allegations “may damage his reputation and/or force him to obtain a residence outside of the boundaries of his district which would disqualify him for re-election.”
“Scott has never been violent with [his wife], his children, or anyone else,” he wrote in a court document. “Scott has never threatened [her] as alleged, nor did he ever threaten to kill her and their children. These are horrible, vile, and untrue allegations.”
The protective order was denied by a judge, and Kelley wanted the court documents sealed.
“Most of the testimony and exhibits submitted to the Court were of a sensitive and personal nature,” his attorney wrote. “Further, numerous allegations were made against Scott that were unfounded and unsupported.”
Kelley alleged his wife would “contact local media and tip them off as to the specifics of the file.” This Is Reno has not had contact with Kelley’s wife. She and her attorney did not respond to multiple requests, by phone and email, for comment.
The court denied Kelley’s request to make the court documents private.
“The allegations raised by Applicant were not found to be frivolous nor without merit, and the exhibits submitted to the court were relevant to the facts of this case…” the court determined.
He accused his wife of blackmail “under threat of damaging his political career.” Kelley has been a school board trustee on and off since 2009.
Kelley did not respond to a dozen questions for this article, that were sent on Friday, after initially saying he would. Instead, he issued a threat.
“If you publish any libelous or slanderous content about myself or my family, I will pursue my full legal recourse,” Kelley said.
Kelley’s online behavior criticized
Kelley’s public social media posts and behind-scenes-conduct have drawn ire from educational professionals and community members. Former school board candidate Brock Marquez said he questioned Kelley on Facebook after people expressed concerns about students getting hit and killed by cars.
Kelley allegedly deleted Marquez’ comment and blocked him from responding, so Marquez posted on his own account.
“I am curious what everyone’s feelings are when a public official deletes a comment?” Marquez wrote, questioning whether it was even legal.
Kelley did not directly respond, but another account posted a comment in defense of Kelley (more on this below).
The Empower Nevada Teachers Facebook group had similar concerns about Kelley.
“Trustee Kelley attacked teachers and other constituents for disagreeing with him on his Facebook. He even called admins and supervisors on people speaking out against him. Ordinarily I would be all for moving on, but his behavior was not acceptable,” a commenter wrote.
“His comments were disgusting and aren’t acceptable as a public official,” another commenter said.
Kelley “was kicked out of this group after he started bashing teachers and being unprofessional,” another person wrote. “[He was] removed for being rude to teachers and using the platform to boost himself for his re-election.”
Kelley recently complained to a dean at the University of Nevada, Reno about an educational professor who was openly critical of Kelley’s online behavior and his decision to support reopening schools.
“We…need to elect people who (a) are qualified for the positions in which they serve and (b) can take criticism and feedback without becoming defensive. We are electing people, not Gods. We as the voting public can [fairly] criticize decisions like this,” the professor wrote.
Kelley then contacted UNR’s education dean. The professor in return complained to School Board of Trustees’ Chair Malena Raymond.
After that, Kelley apologized to the education professor.
“I should not have reached out to your supervisor. I did that because I’m Jewish, and my father and I being publicly called bigots was upsetting,” he said. “I brought it up to you on Twitter, but I should have asked if you wanted to meet and discuss. I apologize.”
Others criticizing Kelley online said they were quickly met with threats and attacks.
“I made comments to Scott Kelly [sic] on his Facebook page about three weeks ago,” a commenter wrote. “He has a couple of trolls that monitor his Facebook page and they jump in and start making threats.
“One of them even threatened me with physical violence. One of them swamps you with about five paragraphs of boilerplate propaganda that makes no sense [then] the other guy says he’s a retired Air Force colonel, and he’s the one that said he would take a Corvette and shove it up my ass.”
Fake social media accounts defend district, Kelley
Documents filed in the marital dispute reveal Kelley to be operating “fake social media accounts.” One alias associated with Kelley is David Jeffrey.
An account with that name on Facebook has defended Kelley and criticized This Is Reno’s coverage of the Washoe County School District.
“Nevada is last in education but WCSD places much higher when compared to similar size districts” [sic] Jeffrey wrote at one point.
In another post, he chastised those questioning the School Board of Trustees.
“How do you know board members don’t visit schools?” he wrote before dismissing the criticism. “You must have access to their schedules. If not, then you’re making stuff up and adding to the negativity on social media that you so regularly gripe about” [sic].
Kelley’s attorney said Kelley admitted his use of “an alternate account.”
“Scott does maintain an alternate account primarily to purchase items on the Facebook Shopping Community which allows him to avoid advertising spam being sent to his main account,” Kelley’s attorney wrote.
When Kelley reportedly blocked former school board candidate Brock Marquez on Facebook, after Marquez asked the question about student deaths, the Jeffrey account defended Kelley.
“I recall Mr Kelly [sic] did respond, saying school police released a report saying the accidents were from people distracted or bad weather,”Jeffrey wrote. “It seems like the full context isn’t being discussed, just one person’s opinion” [sic].
The Jeffrey account also criticized Reno City Councilmember Devon Reese, who defended the Washoe County Library System’s decision to host drag queen story hour in 2019. Jeffrey called Reese an activist politician.
“Why is a Reno City Councilman getting involved in a Sparks library controversy? Why did a Washoe County commissioner recently speak against the firing of the school district superintendent? These activist politicians need to focus on what they were elected or appointed for and jump into whatever issue they want to” [sic], the account alleged.
Reese responded by saying he’s a Washoe County taxpayer.
The David Jeffrey account claimed it “started at Douglas County High School” in February of 2019. A Douglas High School representative said a person by that name does not work there, nor has anyone with that name.
Who is Darryl Larsen?
Another account that is not what it claimed takes similar positions as the Jeffrey account. “Darryl H. Larsen” on Facebook repeatedly bashed news media coverage of the school district, including that of Joe Hart / KRNV, This Is Reno and the Reno Gazette Journal. It also for years denounced people who were critical of the school district.
Larsen’s detailed knowledge of WCSD — he claimed to watch all school board meetings — combined with the heightened defenses of the district, were considered by many to be disproportionate coming from somebody who said he was a grandparent of children attending local schools.
Many attempted to sleuth the account’s identity, including one person hiring a private investigator. Larsen claimed to be a substitute teacher at WCSD; though, the school district’s staff list had no such person.
The account was determined to be a fake last year. The account’s profile photograph originated in a news story from Michigan in 2009 with no relation to Nevada. The profile photograph was changed, however, just after the pilfered image was outed as being a fake.
The account claimed to be run by “a grandfather of 2 beautiful granddaughters who attend Brown ES…” Posts from the account advocated for the passage of WC1, which raised Washoe County’s sales tax to fund new school construction and other capital improvements.
It regularly defended the School Board of Trustees and once recommended people read an article that contained a profile of Kelley when he was up for reelection in 2016.
The tone and syntax of the account were similarly dismissive of school district criticisms as the David Jeffrey account. Both accounts often omitted periods at the end of posts. Both accounts criticized news coverage of the school district. Both accounts advanced strange perspectives about LGBTQ issues.
“Whether someone is LGBT is scientific or not depends on whether the medical person is pro-LGBT or not,” Larsen wrote. “So, don’t get your panties in a bunch over the school board president’s explanation of their vote. Have an open mind. If you don’t, then you’re just as bad as the ultra conservative relgious [sic] right extremist” [sic].
On more than one occasion, the account criticized former Reno Councilmember David Bobzien, referencing his work as now director of the Governor’s Office of Energy, where Kelley worked from 2015 to 2017.
The account also criticized a WCSD critic and former teacher with detailed information more than a decade old.
“Ignore what Susan…says,” the Larsen account demanded in a comment on an RGJ story. “She was a teacher at Sparks Middle School and named in a 2008 lawsuit where parents of an autistic child allege their son was sexually assaulted. [She] was the child’s teacher and did nothing when the child reported the attacks. [She] was forced out of WCSD for being dishonest and neglecting her duty. She’s very bitter.”
“Every large organization has flubs and errors,” Larsen said. “WCSD has less then [sic] you might think, its [sic] only the media blasts every mistake and glosses over the many good things.”
In defense of WCSD’s handling of the digital days dustup last year, the Larsen account fired shots at the state.
“The NV Dept of Education shortchanged Washoe School District $8.6 million and the new governor owns up to NDE’s mistake in the State of State [sic] address. I’ll bet that ruffled feathers at NDE, so low and behold NV Dept of Education brings up this nonsense about WCSD breaking the law? I think NDE is seeking revenge. Washoe citizens need to protest NV Dept of Education and their [sic] vile ways,” Larsen wrote.
One commenter was apoplectic at the Larsen account’s comments.
“You were born in 1952 and this is how you act on social media?” he asked. “This is what a grandfather of 2 does and says to others in the community?”
The school district cheer-leading by Larsen continued unabated, however, until earlier this year.
“WCSD is not living in the past,” the account noted. “They are doing great work.”
Both the Larsen and Jeffrey accounts were deleted from Facebook on Sunday.
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.