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The chaos that is Trustee Jeff Church (opinion)


Submitted by Richard L. Jay

As a constituent of Washoe County School District, I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to witness the behavior and antics that are occurring at each school board meeting on the part of Trustee Jeff Church and his apparent constituents.

If you haven’t been watching, the school board meetings at the start of the year have been plagued with individuals giving a lot of disinformation, threats and rudeness during public comment. It’s often disrupting the meetings and people have refused to wear masks properly, if at all. 

Some folks at meetings claimed that COVID was a hoax, masks are a “game,” and that the Board of Trustees should take their masks off and move closer to the angry crowd. The mask mandate was NOT a board decision but one of Gov. Steve Sisolak. (Remember President Trump shut down the economy on March 13, 2020 and didn’t reopen it until April 30, 2020.)

At one meeting, they yelled more than once at the Board of Trustees, promising to keep coming back at every meeting in the future. 

Increased school police presence can be observed as tensions get higher at each meeting. I’ve watched and presented in many school board meetings over the years. I can tell you I’ve not seen anything like this. After Jan. 6, one wonders if the individuals attending these meetings and if our elected representatives on the school board should be concerned.  

The group has come and asked repeatedly for the Superintendent’s and Board President’s resignation after they condemned the violence on Jan. 6, offered mental health assistance to students who might be frightened and talking points for parents. 

They continue to make false claims that President Angie Taylor is “racist against whites,” and that the board has approved curriculum like CRT (critical race theory) after they recently passed an Anti-Racism Action Plan (which Trustee Jeff Church approved  but later claimed that he didn’t know what he was voting for) – which does not mention or contain critical race theory components anywhere, and the plan itself was applauded broadly by the student body.  CRT is NOT in WCSD. The recall effort of Dr. Taylor received less than 6% of the needed signatures.

Trustee Church has stated he was confused. He should know what comes with his job. He often comes to meetings unprepared and one could create a game out of the number of times he says he is “confused.”  In the past he has asked for a dictionary to look up a word. Why not use his phone as this is embarrassing to him. 

Washoe County School District Police stand outside of a Board of Trustees meeting that saw three hours of fiery comment, largely against sex-ed and social justice curriculum, on May 25, 2021. Image: Eric Marks / This Is Reno

Instead, it seems he prefers to feed misinformation and have individuals show up at each meeting to shake their fists that he is being repressed and silenced. Every trustee has the opportunity to talk, all in an organized manner and following Robert’s Rules of Order.

It’s very clear now that someone is stoking the flames of the individuals at the expense of our students. 

When Jeff made it through to the general election, he promised that he would “try” to be a team player. I have not seen any evidence of that, as of yet. How do these antics make him a team player? How do they help our students get back into our schools full time? How do they help offer stability to teachers and faculty weary from one year of constant shifting under COVID? Wouldn’t it be easier to try and build consensus and find common ground to work with his colleagues? 

Also, how much taxpayer money is being wasted by our Superintendent and Trustees having to constantly respond to the misinformation and to Trustee Church’s constituents? 

In a TV interview he admitted he is campaigning against his fellow trustees.  

The constituents are campaigning to remove CRT (which doesn’t exist in WCSD), removal of SHARE (parents can opt out their children if they want), removal of the “mafia alphabet” (LBGTQA) and to fire the new superintendent because she graduated from “liberal” schools. 

Berkeley and Harvard – liberal schools!  Harvard is a top ranked school, and having her experience here in WCSD will only help our students, parents, teachers, staff and community.  

In a meeting, Church made comments that our teachers and principals have a “can’t do” attitude, which is appalling coming from a supposed leader of our community. If he took the time to visit our schools, he would know just how hard working the school district staff is. 

He needs to remember he was elected to serve Washoe County School District Board of Trustees, not the Nevada Board of Education. He often quotes information about Nevada, but WCSD is NOT Nevada. Time and again, it has been proven WCSD is doing much better than the state as a whole, a point Church and his cronies seemingly fail to understand.  

If Trustee Jeff Church doesn’t like the way the board operates, the rules he must work within or even to work with his constituents and colleagues, perhaps he should resign and go back to his days of giving three minutes of public comment to his heart’s desire, as that seems to be where his interests are – not for that of our students and teachers who to endured the worst pandemic in modern history.

Richard L. Jay has served more than 30 years in community leadership roles in the Reno/Tahoe area. A graduate from Reno High school, he received his Bachelors of Science in Economics from the University of Nevada. He also serves on the City of Reno Financial Advisory Board, and is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, Sparks Rotary, and the Reno Youth Sports Association. In 2012, the Moana Sports Fields were renamed the Richard L. Jay Fields by the City of Reno. He was appointed by the City of Reno as Reno Tahoe International Airport trustee since 2017. He also sat on the WCSD Safe and Healthy Schools Commission. 

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School board president, principal recognized by school boards association

The Nevada Association of School Boards recently recognized two Washoe County School District professionals for their service to students and schools.