Why the criticism over Gilbert?
The letters published on July 19 have me scratching my head, wondering why the writers took shots at our school board trustees and their quest for capable and efficient representation.
One writer launched a grenade at legal counsel Gilbert, suggesting his ownership of stock in a cannabis corporation would lead our students to become druggies. Along that line of thinking, should we be thankful he doesn’t own stock in a company that makes condoms, liquor, glue, or manure?
They are seeking representation to protect our county from saber-rattling ACLU legal beagles, that want to create a protected class out of three or four students, at the cost of a hundred times that many other students. Funny ..I thought we all had civil rights, not just a few.
Also mentioned was the “ non-partisan” expectations of our trustees. Is the teacher’s union non-partisan? Are educators and administrators to be held to the same standard? If so, we have an epic fail!
While I admire and respect all who dedicate their careers to educating our youth, I can’t help but question why so many are hell-bent on change and disruption. Has no one noticed our national math scores have been declining since “Common Core” was implemented? So convenient to blame a pandemic. Google the timing of the decline and Common Core. Ironic, to say the least.
Last, in my humble opinion, any elected person is political. They got there by an election. That is politics. Our FBI is supposed to be non- partisan, as are judges (also elected in some cases), our Sheriff, and indeed our educators, by association with their partisan unions.
I welcome any response that can make sense out of the morass being caused by political influence, pressure, aspersions, etc. being thrust upon those with an opposing view.
Concerned about school board
I am a parent and grandparent who is very concerned about the direction that our school district appears to be heading. This swerve began after the 2022 election. The three newly elected board members, plus one incumbent board member, began their first meeting with a clear Open Meeting Violation. Nevada’s Open Meeting Law provides that the public have complete and thorough notifications and opportunities to speak about various Board actions. This Board arrived at its first meeting with clear intentions and pre-determined outcomes. They voted for each other for a variety of Board positions including seating a new president, vice president and clerk. Formal OML complaints have been submitted to the Attorney General’s office but not yet resolved.
Even after that unfortunate first meeting, I believe the new members have illegally coordinated their efforts including the outcome of the special meeting that was held on July 19, at which the Board 1) voted to cancel a competitive RFP for new Board counsel, 2) voted to single source a new counsel, that being the Joey Gilbert Law and 3) fired the existing board counsel. The four members voted as a bloc in every case and without regard for the public, who came out during a workday to speak against these actions. The previous evening, during its regular meeting, the Board heard from many parents who decried the timing of the special meeting. Even with the curiously timed scheduling, parents made attempts to participate in the meeting.
These parents were disparaged, their letters and emails dismissed and called duplicates as well as talking points. The Board often did not even look at the speakers. Calling that disheartening misses the mark by a substantial order of magnitude.
To the parents of Douglas County, rise up. Speak. Don’t be silenced by a political minority in Douglas County. Your voices must be heard. You are your children’s best advocates.
To the taxpayers of Douglas County, be aware that you’ve just lost a superb advocate for our district in Maupin. Mr. Gilbert’s proposal is more expensive in both retainer and hourly rate. We deserve better. More importantly, our children deserve better. This decision has real harms attached to it. And these harms are going to cost more money from your pockets as well as our children’s education. Each dollar spent for lawyering is one that won’t be spent in the classroom.
The Board counsel represents the entire district including an almost daily contact with district administration. The Board portion of that activity is maybe 10 percent of the total. The 90 percent is guiding the district to follow incredibly complex education laws at the state and federal level. And that last is where there is potential trouble. When you break federal discrimination laws, you put all of your federal funding at risk.
One additional comment, not an insignificant one. During the Tuesday regular meeting, an audience member, after the resignation of the current Human Resources Director Joe Girdner was announced, proclaimed loudly “One down, one to go.” What a way to run a meeting. What a massive injustice to the children, teachers and public and taxpayers of Douglas County.
Cheryl Corthell Blomstrom
Kids deserve better
The Douglas County School District Board held a special meeting on July 19 to consider the contract for legal services with its current law firm, Maurine, Cox & LeGoy, and to discuss action on whether to terminate the RFP process for legal services. In their infinite wisdom, board members voted to abandon a competitive RFP process, and terminate the legal services of MCL. MCL has served the district for 20 years and has expertise in education law. MCL charged the district a monthly retainer fee of $5,000 and an hourly rate of $225 per hour for litigation-related services.
The board then took up a discussion on whether to hire Joey Gilbert Law firm as the district’s legal counsel. Board members invited Mr. Gilbert, and only Mr. Gilbert, to attend, and make a presentation. No other law firms were invited to present. Board members appeared to have made their decision before the meeting, making a mockery of public input into the decision. The board members turned a deaf ear to public pleas to keep the RFP process, and allow for an open, competitive process in selecting new legal counsel, although one has to question the need for new legal counsel in the first place.
The Board then terminated their relationship with MCL, and hired the Joey Gilbert law firm, a firm with no experience in education law, at an increased cost of $30,000 a year just for retainer fees and an increase to $325 per hour for litigation-related services. I think the citizens of Douglas County deserve better, and should be outraged at the ineptitude, and fiscal irresponsibility of this board.
One must ask why these board members were so intent on hiring Mr. Gilbert’s firm over any consideration of other law firms? What citizens of Douglas County need to understand is that this board is motivated by a particular ideological political agenda, not the best interests of the school district, its administrators, teachers, staff, and most especially, its students. The board does the bidding of the Republican Central Steering Committee. This board reflects a national effort to infiltrate and install people who will carry out the agenda of a marginal, far right wing group. Mr. Gilbert’s expressed political opinions fit with the Board’s ideological agenda. Period. He will do their bidding.
I do not begrudge anyone for their political preferences. I have wonderful friends across the political spectrum. However, politics has no place as a motivating force for decisions considered by the Douglas County School Board, or any school board in this country. I would make the same argument if the Board was motivated by a far left ideological agenda.
The focus of this Board should be ensuring quality education, supporting those who teach our students, and the health, safety, and wellness of our students. Leave your politics at home.
It is time to initiate a recall of Board members Jansen, Burns, Dickerson and Englekirk. Our kids deserve better.
Zealots now dominate board
Last week, the hard-right zealots who now dominate the Douglas County School District Board of Trustees carried off their first big achievement. It wasn’t pretty.
Led by Susan Jansen, the board’s new majority fired its legal firm because it had advised them that their proposals against transgender students would likely run afoul of state law.
It’s always a bad idea to fire your lawyers because you don’t like what they say. But things got much worse.
Ignoring objections from parents, teachers, former school administrators and dissenting board members, the board voted to hire Joey Gilbert, the former boxer turned attorney who traffics in debunked conspiracy theories and made a botched run for governor last year.
Gilbert has built his career by provoking outrage. He was on the board of a scandal-ridden “non-profit” that promoted anti-vaccine theories. He was chastised by a judge for proposing that the group pay him $25,000 a month. He spoke at a January 6 rally in Washington just before mobs stormed the Capitol.
True, it’s possible to be an election denier and a good attorney at the same time. But Gilbert doesn’t inspire confidence. After he lost last year’s GOP gubernatorial primary to Joe Lombardo, and then sued to overturn the results, he had his case dismissed on summary judgement and then ordered to pay more than $240,000 in attorney’s fees to the other side.
Gilbert freely acknowledged last week that he has no experience in education law beyond suing the Washoe County School District. By contrast, the district’s previous law firm has represented school systems around the state, including Douglas County, for decades.
Yet the school board’s new majority picked Gilbert’s law firm without even soliciting any competitive bids. Gilbert confirmed he will charge more than the previous firm.
It now seems likely that the board will pass the anti-transgender policies on bathrooms and sports teams, and the American Civil Liberties Union has promised to sue in response. That sets up an expensive legal fight that the school district may well lose.
But wait, there’s more. All indications are that the board will fire the district’s highly respected superintendent, Keith Lewis, because Jansen & Co. don’t think he is sufficiently loyal. We can also expect a slew of other initiatives, from new restrictions on teaching about race to bans on books that mention sex.
All of this is a disservice to the county’s students, teachers and administrators. Unfortunately, last week’s carnival was probably only the beginning.
Board burning it all down
Led by three new elected Board members demonstrating their burn-it-all-down approach to “governance” and shockingly joined by one incumbent board member the Douglas County School Board just summarily fired the legal firm which had competently and responsibly provided legal counsel to the Board for years. Grounds for this action was a transgender “issue”. Why don’t these Board members stop parroting their lame defense that they are “just trying to protect the children” and candidly admit that they are merely totally anti-LBGT? Further they are fanatically bent on imposing their extreme radical far-right ideology “national politics” MAGA agenda on the County. This time apparently successfully. There will be more attempts. Whether they succeed or not is up to us. The next step in their “process” was to hire new legal counsel. Which they did by immediately hiring an attorney without so much as even considering at least one other candidate. This is commonly referred to as “awarding a no bid contract”. And it gets worse. The attorney that was hired is an election-denier (the litmus test) wholly unqualified joke of an attorney. This is an abject insult to our intelligence. As a 53-year resident I regard this entire episode a total travesty the likes of which I thought I would never see in Douglas County.
Board protecting girls
It has become common dialogue among those opposing our current school board members, most notably, trustees Susan Jansen, Katherine Dickerson, and David Burns, that they are pushing their political agenda at the expense of young and adolescent students.
It is important to understand that all three board members ran on the promise to protect our children, especially young girls who, across this nation, are being introduced to the “woke” transgender political ideology that is pushing them into becoming transgender for acceptance and praise with little to no understanding of the long-term consequences of their decisions.
Sadly, this IS a political issue for the Democrat Party. And, as an active participant in Nevada’s 82nd legislative session, I saw first-hand how the Marxist woke agenda is being pushed down the throats of Nevadans, with many people unaware of the damage this movement has on everything from personal freedom, parental rights, student health care, privacy, and the well-being of our children.
During the final days of the legislative session, Democrat’s bill, AB423, was amended without a hearing. Had it passed it would have prohibited schools from creating a policy restricting transgender students’ access to restrooms and locker rooms opposite their biological sex and would have allowed transgender biological males and females to compete in sports of the opposite sex. This would have decimated women’s sports in our schools.
Fortunately, trustees Jansen, Dickerson, and Burns hope to implement a policy to prevent these things from happening in our schools, which I and many others strongly support.
I would argue too that any law that grants biological males that identify as females access to women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and participation in women’s sports violates the rights of women. It is unfair to grant rights to one group of people at the expense of another. Why aren’t the feminists screaming from the rooftops on this violation of young women so prevalent today?
Not only that, but such laws endanger young girls and women from sexual and physical assault and undermines their privacy.
In 2021, in Loudon County, Virginia, a 15-year-old male student who identifies as ‘gender fluid’ was found guilty of engaging in sexual violence against a girl in a girl’s restroom. Another incident occurred in March in Wisconsin when a transgender-identifying student who is a biological male aged eighteen, showered in the girls’ locker room with four freshman girls, exposing them to male genitalia.
One such case is far too many.
The bottom line is that boys and men do not belong in women’s lockers and restrooms and vice versa. It’s just commonsense and decency, which we are sadly lacking in our country today.
So, it is inaccurate to accuse our recently elected school board trustees of not caring about our children. No, they care about our school children and will go to the ends of the earth to make sure that policies are in place to protect them. Our children deserve this. And so do parents.