As a result of disruptive behavior from public commenters flouting state-ordered COVID-19 mitigation protocols — like mask wearing — the Washoe County School Board of Trustees (WCSD) will temporarily be returning to virtual meetings.
WCSD Board President Angie Taylor on Thursday made a statement concerning the decision.
“The health and safety of all our attendees, including our students, families, staff, and members of the public is of the utmost importance to us,” she said. “At the March 30, 2021 meeting of the Board of Trustees, there were a large number of attendees repeatedly refusing to adhere to state mandated COVID-19 guidelines, and several attendees confronted/harassed staff members when staff asked them to comply. Like other entities and businesses, it is our responsibility to ensure that our business meetings are in compliance with these mandates.”
As a result, the board’s leadership team had a discussion with school police and made the decision to hold the April 13 meeting of the Board of Trustees virtually, consistent with the governor’s Directives 6, 38 and 41.
During the March 30 meeting, district staff was forced to govern attendees as opposed to completing district business, and, at one point, students were moved to a different location as a result of the tension created by public commenters acting out.
“Numerous staff members shared their concerns related to the confrontational nature of the meeting, which, as President, gave me cause for concern,” Taylor added.
People critical of the district’s anti-racist resolution and its LGBTQ-inclusive sexual education were so disruptive during the March 30 board meeting that, at one point, Taylor called for it to go into recess.
When a woman took off her face shield and was reminded by Taylor that wearing one is mandated by the state, the woman screamed at Taylor, “You’re not my boss. We’re your boss. And don’t you dare cut my microphone.”
At other times during public comment, those in attendance refused Taylor’s request to not applaud following each speaker—many of whom were reading portions of a demand letter penned by Reno attorney Joey Gilbert demanding such things as mandatory drug testing for high school students and threatening to sue over the poor acoustics in the high school gyms where meetings have been taking place. WCSD was using larger rooms to accommodate social distancing.
Taylor said it is her hope to return to in-person meetings as soon as possible.
“But when we do return to in-person meetings, it is also my hope that all participants will comply with COVID-19 mandates as well as cooler heads prevailing to allow the Board to conduct its business meetings in an environment that is safe and free from harassment,” she said.
The April 13 board meeting will start at 2 p.m. The Trustees will attend the meeting remotely, and there will be no physical location for the meeting. Members of the public wishing to observe the meeting can do so via live stream on YouTube.
The board will receive public comment via email only. Those wishing to make public comment should email their public comments to the board’s clerk at [email protected] All public comments received before and during the meeting will be forwarded to the trustees.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.