Feb. 21, 2024, Letters to the Editor

Pine Nut Creek was flowing a bit on Wednesday morning.

Pine Nut Creek was flowing a bit on Wednesday morning.

Thanks for your vote


I would like to thank Doug Englekirk and Susan Jansen for choosing to vote during the Feb. 13 Board meeting with thoughtful consideration of the students, families, and educators you represent. You each proved tonight that you can be the one vote, and one voice that makes a difference

Michelle (Miki) Trujillo


Appalled by incivility


After attending multiple Douglas County school board meetings, I am extremely appalled at the lack of civility displayed by many including a certain trustee. So things aren’t going your way, there is no excuse for the anger displayed, the threats, along with the continual insults.

Three new trustees were voted to the school board who ran on instilling the classic traditional education back into the system vs those who push different theoretical new wave styles and social engineering.

Schools have just become an opportunity for indoctrination into whatever woke agenda has reared its ugly head.

It is quite obvious that there is dissatisfaction in how the election results brought in these new trustees.

So what comes to the meetings is combativeness and very hateful vitriol. Hive minded repetition of “we hate you resign” or “resign we hate you” or “you ought to be ashamed” Along with threats of lawsuits and there are going to be teachers that will leave.

Most of the media put out articles with purposeful omissions which has always been their practice.

The same can be said of those activists who post on social media to incite emotions and anger towards the school board. Again willful omission of many details which is convenient to their narrative.

And then there is Trustee Linda Gilkerson who has repeatedly insulted, demeaned, and belittled Joey Gilbert, a trustee candidate, and candidates for superintendent with an obvious intent to put on a performance for her supporters in the audience. This is a board meeting, and she even demeans that process as she repeatedly enjoys being interrogator pointing out and especially nit picking lawyer fees.

I call that hypocritical.

Then the threat of teachers who are going to leave in droves if they dare hire whom they don’t approve.

Well maybe those people who leave are the ones who need to go because they are so vested in the new wave theory stuff and all the social garbage.

But since the opposition has lost the election, one thing that is obviously displayed in their actions is who they really fear. The new majority of the board who want more classical education and protecting the girls in their private spaces and sports. The focus on one of the superintendent candidates along with Joey Gilbert who isn’t afraid of threats from the ACLU (unlike the previous legal service) or disillusioned serial legal filers.

So I would encourage anyone to not believe everything you read with what little the local media puts out that is generally favorable to those who seemingly object to the school boards’ governance. Watch some of the meetings online. See the anger and maybe see some of the hilarious filibuster tactics. But when the cameras are off, what you won’t see is when these stellar citizens verbally and angrily accost board members with ugly accusations.

I only wish that the obstruction and harassment could come to an end and some respect will be exercised.

Beth Bunch

Jacks Valley

School board issues of today reminiscent of one 40 years ago


I have been in Douglas County about 50 years, have no kids and was deeply involved in the Committee of 21 which led to the resignation of School Superintendent Greg Betts about 40 years ago. The Committee of 21 was created after multiple school Bond failures. The current mess is of the same magnitude although the issues are different.

Whether you have students in the schools or not, good schools are essential to a thriving community and this County doesn’t seem on track to maintain its “best in the state” school quality at this time. Perhaps more reporting on student academic success in math, science, reading, US, world history and American government is needed to provide the community assurance the schools are doing what the community needs, wants and expects.

The COVID mess screwed up student learning in most of the country. How schools and communities recover from that mess will likely show the depth of the community culture and backbone for a decade or longer. The issue is bigger than just parents with kids in schools or those who will be in our schools. It is time for the entire community to “step up” to school performance. Ask the kids and parents with school age children what they are learning to ensure it makes sense. If this community demands quality leadership such as Pendry Clark, Jon Soderman, Lisa Noonan and Teri White, then Douglas schools will continue to be among the best in the state. Anything less would be stupid and that might be the current path we are on with a created leadership crisis. The community funds the schools; engage to insure your money is well spent.

Ray Bacon


School board shennanigans


Thanks and kudos to The Record-Courier for following the shenanigans of the Douglas County School Board. I don’t, and never have had, children in Douglas County schools, but we all have a vested interest in the education and futures of our young people. On the face of it, in my 28 years of living in this beautiful valley, I have taken great pride in the reputation of our school district and it seemed to me that students were routinely lauded for their achievements in both academics and sports. Now all I hear about is how our current Board seems to be systematically dismantling all that came before. Immediately moving to replace the district’s legal representation and blowing an entire year’s budget on familiarization by the new legal team while simultaneously responding to records requests from folks who seem to support the new Board’s political agenda strikes me as irresponsible on the face of it. The latest revelation is that the best candidate we can offer a Superintendent contract to is someone who has clearly not been completely vetted, who has a troubling employment history, who was not the highest scoring candidate according to the Board’s own screening process metrics, and who does not seem to have the respect of either parents OR faculty. Seems like a recipe for disaster to me. With this ongoing pattern of disregard for the concerns raised by the folks who can actually show up to the meetings where all of these decisions are being made, what does the Board imagine that the rest of the community is thinking? Will we suffer a mass defection of our body of teachers because their work condition is too miserable to bear? I think it’s already difficult to recruit to this area because of the cost of housing...why would we want to drive educators out of our system? The instructors I have known love what they do and they love their students, but they certainly don’t get paid enough to put up with the degradation of their work environment on top of the already difficult task of continuing to try to catch up from the pandemic losses. It seems to me that, instead of plowing ahead with what appears to be a predetermined agenda focused on social rather than academic issues, we should get back to the task of rebuilding what was lost during Covid, moving forward toward creating the best environment for excellent teaching and learning, and to not remain fixated on putting into place only those who agree with our new Board members. When even the areas surrounding Douglas County are continually reporting negative news about our school district, it is ultimately the students who are paying the price for the time spent on all of this mishegoss. The students and all of Douglas County deserve better.

Betti Christensen


Unconcerned about education


The most recent actions of the school board have now drawn the attention of the regional media as the decisions being made are drawing more attention and condemnation from members of the community. Public attention on all board matters is high and a wide range of community members are now involved more than they have been previously. In an attempt to head off another letter to the editor touting the vote tally in the previous election, it is acknowledged that the current board members were elected by a majority of Douglas County residents who cast ballots in the last election. That is not a reason to dismiss the majority attendance to board meetings of people who disagree with some of the recent board decisions. This does raise a question of: Since the board was elected by a majority of voters, why is there such vocal opposition and majority attendance to board meetings by those opposing the board decisions? And this is an important question. From my understanding, the organized group in opposition to the current board is primarily made up of parents of active and former students, current and former teachers and staff, and current and former students. It appears that the majority of Douglas County voters wanted the board members that were elected, but the parents, teachers, and students of the district that they represent do not agree with the boards recent decisions or direction. I think it’s important to note that the people who use and represent the educational system in Douglas County are upset with the boards direction and decisions. That then begs the question of whether the board represents the electorate or the district. I think it is obvious that the board represents their electorate. It is my opinion that the board has no vested interest in improving education or even providing education services at all. Their actions demonstrate a desire to focus on a political narrative, install persons in critical positions that agree with them ideologically, and hire firms and outside council that will serve their political interests. The most recent board actions regarding the new superintendent search is another symptom of this broader issue, where the board brought forward a superintendent candidate that lied on their application and had serious allegations against him that were discoverable with a relatively easy background search. Why? Why with such scrutiny and public attention would this board even bring forward such a contentious candidate? My only conclusion is that the board is so unconcerned with student education that they just don’t care. They just need a puppet to push their agenda. I have a feeling that they will find just that in a new candidate, just hopefully not one with a record. It must also be pointed out that Chairman Burns, after bringing this superintendent candidate forward, abstained from the final vote to reject this candidate and extend the search. What cowardice. At least the rest of the Trustees let their votes be recorded.

John Collins


Decision brings relief


It is with great relief that I commend the Douglas County School Board for re-opening the search for a superintendent and not offering a contract to John Ramirez. It is the most important decision this board will make and deserves further scrutiny.

I must however question the judgment of President Burns in beginning the meeting by inserting a political correspondent into the agenda and giving her unlimited time to speak. The objective was to deny all questionable behaviors that had arisen concerning Mr. Ramirez’s contractual history with school districts, accusations of mismanagement, suggestions of improper behavior and an arrest for a DUI with a .225 blood alcohol level.

Megan Barth, political editor for the Nevada Globe, spoke asserting that “All of the concerns about Mr. Ramirez were unfounded and totally false.” Please check the video or minutes of Mr. Ramirez being interviewed on Feb. 6 in which he said he “totally owned the DUI” and that it was an “oversight” to not list his arrest on the job application. Upon finishing her nine-minute extremely biased tirade Ms. Barth got up from the table and left the building. No printed records or background evidence were shown.

Shame on you, President Burns, for asserting “Presidential Discretion” in presenting this charade. It most certainly was not the unbiased background check warranted by the administrative and personal behavior questions that had arisen concerning Mr. Ramirez.

Then you abstained on the board motion to not approve a contract....

We the people of Douglas County deserve better.

Jennifer Tanner

Jacks Valley

The question is why?


I’m writing today in an effort to do everything within my power to stop the four new School Board Members, Mrs. Jansen, Mr. Burns, Ms. Dickerson, and Mr. Englekirk, from ruining the Douglas County School District.

The policies that they have changed make their actions less accountable, less transparent and less about making education better. The result is the School Board’s agenda is no longer about supporting children, teachers and families and it is about their own personal agendas.

I call on those School Board Members to undo what they have done or resign immediately so that normal administration can continue. They have caused the loss of many staff and administrators and threaten to alienate even more...and teachers as well. There is an extreme shortage of people to hire to replace the people who have and will leave.

The short and bizarre “hiring process” for the new superintendent is another example of their control moves. Jose Ramirez wasn’t just the least likely to be hired but has offenses in school districts in the past.

I taught in Douglas County, raised five children who went to Douglas schools, and I still have a grandchild here. Whenever you allow policies that give powers to public officials with hidden agendas, you are asking for a derailment of democratic voice and freedom in our community.

I’m not sure why these four individuals, Mrs. Jansen, Mr. Burns, Ms. Dickerson, and Mr. Englekirk wanted to become school board members. They obviously are not hoping to work together with staff or families. Instead, they seem to want to obscure their efforts from the public altogether. I just don’t understand why?

I hope parents and teachers will stand up and speak out against the actions that Mrs. Jansen, Mr. Burns, Ms. Dickerson, and Mr. Englekirk have taken as school board members. This has to stop.

Janice Rice


Lesson in democracy


The Feb. 13 Douglas County School Board meeting was a lesson in democracy. Most community members came to express opposition to the Board’s selection of the next school superintendent. They raised concerns about the applicant’s character with regard to a number of items that have been amply discussed in previous letters.

Teachers, parents, students, and community members were almost unanimous in their concerns about the applicant’s honesty, integrity and ability serve as a role model for students and staff.

My guess is that some of those who have become so opposed to recent actions by the School Board may actually have voted for the three members whose names often appeared in association with Republican candidates in the 2022 election. This is, of course, primarily a Republican county. When voting for the “up ballot” candidates, how many really knew much about the “down ballot” School Board candidates? These are nonpartisan positions but by association there may have been a partisan influence. If

some voters knew then what they know now would they have voted for them? The board members were elected by a democratic process but the information essential to making an informed choice may have been lacking.

Voting is only a piece of the democratic process. The real action was at that Board meeting. The will of the people was pretty clear. But getting out information enabling people to make an informed choice is difficult. And a person’s energy and interest in seeking out information is limited. Establishing credible of sources of information is becoming increasingly difficult. Democracy is messy. And that School Board meeting was a lesson in how challenging it is for people to get what is best for the majority by speaking up and being clear about what is important, by taking on people in power for whom they may (or may not) have voted but who do not seem to be listening Cheers to the many people who had the courage to speak up.

Barbara Kuehner


Meeting expectations?


Mr. Muzzy’s characterization of the vote margin is true.

However, how many of those votes were based on expectations for actual performance. So, where are we? A very experienced, successful Superintendent is gone, the legal expense budget is depleted, and the new superintendent search process seems, at best, questionable. Does this meet expectations?

Bob Taormina


Numbers tell a different story


In response to Lynn Muzzy’s Feb. 14 letter, it’s important to provide clarity regarding the recent trustee elections. Mr. Muzzy stated that the three new trustees were elected in a landslide, a close look at the numbers, sourced from our county clerk-treasurer’s website, reveals a different perspective, shedding light on the community’s sentiments towards the board’s agenda.

Trustee Jansen won her race by 2,859 votes (14,152 to 11,293), with an undervote of 3,797. An undervote occurs when no selection is made in that race.

Similarly, Trustee Dickerson won her race by 1,128 votes (13,247 to 12,119) with an undervote of 3,885.

Trustee Burns won his race by 1,453 votes (13,502 to 12,050) with an undervote of 3,698.

It’s noteworthy that all three races were won by margins narrower than the undervote. In the 2022 election, there were 40,737 registered voters. Of these, 29,363 participated, while 11,374 did not.

It’s evident that these trustees did not secure a landslide victory, and this fact may contribute to the pushback they are receiving from the community. Moving forward, let’s refocus our efforts on prioritizing our children’s education above all else.

I encourage everyone to attend a school board meeting in person or by zoom. For more information visit dcsd.net.

Lori McKimmey


Dismayed by VHR result


I was deeply dismayed that three of five members of the Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted to invalidate the petition a ballot initiative restricting vacation home rentals.

The county clerk rejected hundreds of signatures because of purported signature mismatches or minor inconsistencies in addresses. But it was clear that some or many of those rejections were flat-out wrong, with some rejected voters testifying in person at the commission meeting that they had indeed signed the petition.

There was no evidence whatsoever that any signature was false or fraudulent. But there is abundant evidence that residents desperately want to deal with the problems posed by vacation home rentals and that they want the chance to vote on this proposal. And no wonder: County commissioners have fumbled for years and failed to come up with an effective policy.

This was a sad day for voters and democracy in our county.

Edmund L Andrews

Zephyr Cove


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