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CCSD gender identity policy criticized; police union declares impasse

Updated September 29, 2023 - 7:38 pm

A large crowd of people showed up at Thursday’s Clark County School Board meeting, calling for the repeal of a gender identity policy.

They were referring to Clark County School District policy 5138, titled “addressing the rights and needs of students with diverse gender identities or expressions.” The board adopted the policy in 2018 after a state law required it.

“Keep your guys’ sexual ideology away from our children,” speaker Kimberly Linsday told the board.

Some public commenters accused the district of sexualizing and grooming children. Some read verses from the Bible. The meeting room was so full that some attendees were directed to an overflow room.

Throughout a public comment period that lasted more than two hours, Board President Evelyn Garcia Morales asked multiple people who were yelling to leave, saying they were disrupting a public meeting.

She told the crowd at multiple points that it was a meeting business, providing reminders about meeting decorum such as no clapping, no holding signs overhead and no engaging with other meeting attendees.

It was the second school board meeting this month that drew people who were pushing for the repeal of the gender identity policy.

At a meeting earlier this month, some commenters expressed support for Moms for Liberty, a national organization that recently expanded into Clark County. The organization is classified as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

John Amanchukwu, a North Carolina pastor who has spoken at other school board meetings across the country, said he wanted to share “realities” such as that there are only two genders and he likened parents supporting the transitioning of a minor to child abuse. He also called “transgenderism” a mental disorder.

But others said the current gender identity policy needs to be strengthened, pointing to what they said were hateful remarks made Thursday.

Jenna Robertson, the mother of three district students and a special education advocate, said: “It is scary right now to be the parent of a trans kid in Clark County.”

The gender diversity policy is protected by Nevada statute, she said.

Robertson also said the district is doing the bare minimum to protect transgender children and that Washoe County does a better job.

Some commenters, including teachers and school librarians, spoke on other topics.

Clark High School student Karen Wu said she wanted to provide clarity about a recent student walkout at the school.

She said students exercised their constitutional rights and the walkout took place during a non-instructional period.

Unlike an email sent to high school students that suggests otherwise — she was referencing a message from Superintendent Jesus Jara, but didn’t name him — students did their research and they support school employees.

Wu said she believes the real issue is whether the sender of the email feels the same because his actions don’t align with his words.

Police officers union declares impasse

The School Board voted Thursday on memorandums of agreement with two employee unions — the Police Officers Association of the Clark County School District and Education Support Employees Association — over Senate Bill 231 money.

Trustees voted 6-0 to approve the support staff agreement, with Lisa Guzman abstaining because she’s employed by the Nevada State Education Association, which is affiliated with ESEA.

Trustees voted unanimously to approve the police officers agreement.

The Nevada Legislature appropriated $250 million for school district employee raises across the state over two years. The district has estimated it could receive $170 million to $180 million.

The district is negotiating the distribution of SB231 money separately from regular collective bargaining agreements.

The Police Officers Association recently declared an impasse in contract negotiations.

The union — which represents approximately 165 police officers — declared the impasse Sept. 1, President Matthew Caldwell told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The decision wasn’t publicly announced by either party.

Bargaining began in April and six negotiation sessions were held. The last meeting was Aug. 30.

The union is requesting a market adjustment for salaries that would place the department in a competitive range, Caldwell said.

He said it’s still an open discussion with the district and the parties agreed on multiple things, but salary remains a sticking point.

A fact finder has no availability until March or April, Caldwell said, so efforts are underway to get a different one. But he said the union could still reach an agreement with the district prior to that.

The district said in a statement to the Review-Journal: “Despite the exorbitant salary increases POA is demanding, CCSD remains hopeful that an agreement can be reached before the start of arbitration.”

The Police Officers Association is not the only employee union affected by an impasse in collective bargaining with the district this year.

Earlier this month, the district declared an impasse with the Clark County Education Association teachers union — which represents about 18,000 licensed employees — after 11 negotiation sessions since late March. The matter now goes to arbitration.

Agreements for employee raises

Education support professionals will receive a total of $58 million — 33 percent of the money the district is receiving through Senate Bill 231.

The district has roughly 13,000 support professionals.

Police officers will receive about $1 million — about 0.6 percent of what the district is receiving.

It’s unclear how much money each employee will get and when they’ll see the pay increase. Further details aren’t included in online meeting materials.

For police officers, Caldwell said it’s his understanding that a 1 percent cost of living adjustment would cost a total of about $210,000.

One option — which would have to be ratified by union members — could be a roughly 5 percent pay adjustment, equating to 2.5 percent annually for two years, he said.

ESEA President Jan Giles said via email to the Review-Journal that the intention is to get the money to support staff as quickly as possible.

“The framework and details for the allocation of this money is coming together quickly and we encourage all involved to expedite the final regulations,” she wrote.

Since the memorandum includes a sunset clause for the money, Giles also wrote the union looks forward to working with state legislators and the governor during the 2025 legislative session to replicate the appropriation for support staff and educators.

Support professionals are also receiving raises announced in early August as part of a collective bargaining agreement.

They’re receiving an 8.65 percent salary increase during the first year (but that includes 1.875 percent thatalready took effect in July since the district is covering the additional cost employees were slated to pay toward public employee retirement)

Jim Frazee, a high school teacher and vice president of the teachers union, said he was in opposition.

“The law does not allow you to do this,” he said, noting it’s not the district’s money to divide up and it must be collectively bargained.

Frazee said that until all employee unions have bargained, the district can’t move foward.

He said that as much as he cares for support staff and any educator values them — and they deserve more — he questioned how the district is spending money.

If there are tens of thousands of students who don’t have a licensed educator, then why isn’t the district using money to attract qualified educators? Frazee asked.

He also said the Nevada State Education Association spoke against SB 231 during the legislative session.

School start times

Trustees also heard a nearly hourlong presentation Thursday on three options for later school start times, but didn’t take action.

It comes after the Nevada State Board of Education approved draft regulation language earlier this month that would require high schools to start no earlier than 8 a.m.

A state regulation hearing is expected in November and the board could take final action during that meeting.

If approved, the regulation would be gradually implemented starting during the 2024-25 school year.

The district has expressed opposition to the proposal and its general counsel said during the state board meeting that the district would take all actions, including litigation, on the issue.

Nearly all Clark County high schools currently begin classes at 7 a.m.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on X.

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