December 23, 2016 - 7:16 pm
A Clark County School District investigation of Trustee Kevin Child said he created a hostile and intimidating work environment and held impromptu “suicide counseling sessions” with young children when he visited schools, according to a memo obtained Friday by the Review-Journal.
Child’s behavior also caused anxiety among female employees, who labeled him weird and creepy, because he stared at women, commented on the “sexiness” of clothing and talked about which staff members he wanted to date, the memo said.
Allegations about Child’s behavior, first reported by the Review-Journal this month, had prompted a meeting with district officials in March. The Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action launched an investigation in September after conduct protocols that Child agreed to were not followed, according to the memo sent to Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky.
The four-page report, dated Oct. 19, says administrators and employees were so uncomfortable with Child that they came to fear him and possible reprisals if they were to report the elected member of the School Board.
According to the memo, the district had not received any official complaints of harassment or sexual harassment regarding Child. Despite the lack of official complaints, the report said it’s evident that female employees at all levels are cautious of being alone with Child — so much so that building administrators have been forced to resort to special “Trustee Child protocols” inclusive of unique code words for when he shows up unannounced.
No formal action was taken against Child to halt his behavior until December — more than nine months after concerns were first raised. On Dec. 5, six weeks after the ODAA sent its memo, Skorkowsky formally implemented guidelines specifically banning Child from visiting schools unless he had written permission.
Skorkowsky could not be reached for comment Friday. But last week, when asked by a Review-Journal reporter about mounting allegations that led to Child’s ban from school visits, he hinted that reasons existed.
“We’re a $2.4 billion corporation,” Skorkowsky said. “I wouldn’t do anything without evidence.”
“At no time have I engaged in any inappropriate conduct or made ‘gestures’ toward school administrators, teachers or students during my visits to schools in my district,” he said in a statement to the Review-Journal after being banned. “The allegations are difficult to address as I have not been provided copies of any of the alleged complaints.”
At that time, Child did not mention the March meeting or that his behavior had been questioned before.
Repeated attempts Friday to reach Child by telephone, email and social media were unsuccessful. Messages left for the six other trustees were not returned.
The memo states that employees have feared the power that Child has as a trustee, as he frequently reminds staff that he is “their boss” and the superintendent’s boss.
“In fact, those district administrators who have skittishly come forward with ‘confidential’ concerns or those who have sought guidance under the guise of ‘hypothetical’ scenarios involving ‘one of the trustees,’ have made it clear that they do not want their names shared out of fear of reprisal from Trustee Child,” the report reads.
The report revealed behavior by Child that employees said frequently “crosses the line.”
The memo also details “suicide counseling sessions” Child held with students. Employees reported the suicide sessions often resulted in the schools initiating suicide protocols with the students involved.
Child’s wife, Susan, was found with a gunshot wound along with four dogs in a house fire in March 2008, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal archives. Her death was ruled a suicide.
In the allegations outlined in the memo, Child flirts with female employees by commenting on the “sexiness” of their clothes, talks about employees he would like to date, makes homophobic comments and touts his status as “The Boss.”
“Throughout conversations and interviews with employees, there has emerged the ‘common theme’ that perhaps Trustee Child is incapable of ‘filtering out’ what is/is not appropriate speech or behavior in the workplace or for a Trustee,” the memo states.
Among the findings, it continued, ”In essence, Trustee Child has rendered employees at all levels of the organization defenseless.”
‘NOT FIT TO GOVERN’
In March, after hearing concerns, Child was called into a meeting with the affirmative action office and the district’s lawyer to discuss his behavior. At that time, Child agreed not to visit schools unannounced and not to meet with female employees alone.
Child did not abide by those rules.
The Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action, under the management of Executive Manager Cedric Cole, opened a formal investigation into Child’s behavior Sept. 7 and finished its report Oct. 19.
The report states Child’s behavior could reasonably be construed as causing a sexual harassment/hostile work environment. At minimum, Child was violating district policy 4110, and by extension, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin or religion.
John Vellardita, the executive director of the Clark County Education Association — the union which serves teachers — called on Child to resign.
“I’ve consistently said he’s not fit to govern,” Vellardita said.
Child’s actions highlight a classic power struggle, Vellardita said. Vellardita said his organization has flagged issues with Child’s behavior long before March 2016, but because people are not willing to use their names, they haven’t been able to provide the evidence the district needs.
“This is the classic case where victims become somewhat fearful of speaking out,” he said. “There’s nothing surprising with that report, it concurs with what we have already been told by employees who are fearful of this guy.”
Child has served as the District D trustee since being elected in 2014. He’s butted heads with a number of different groups, including the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-Technical Employees.
His social media posts also have caused controversy.
In July, Child asked on Facebook : “If protesters are in the road and blocking it and not in the crosswalk…would you run them over?”
In May 2013, Child blamed parents who can’t speak English for the district’s failure to teach the language to children. He wrote that most of those parents are here illegally, and said it’s not right that taxpayers have to pay for these “law breakers.”
Review-Journal staff writer Natalie Bruzda contributed to this story. Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at email@example.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @ameliapakharvey on Twitter. Contact Meghin Delaney at 702-383-0281. Follow @MeghinDelaney on Twitter.
MEMO ON KEVIN CHILD
Nov. 2014: Kevin Child beats out state-appointed Clark County School District Board of Trustees member Steven Corbett for the District D seat. A total of 19,877 people voted in that race, according to election results.
Jan. 5, 2015: Child is sworn in for a four-year term.
March 2016: Child meets with the district lawyer and the office of diversity and affirmative action to discuss Child’s behavior when visiting schools. Child agrees to stop showing up to schools unannounced.
Sept. 7, 2016: The office of diversity and affirmative action opens a formal investigation into Child’s behavior.
Oct. 19, 2016: A four-page memo is sent to Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky about Child from Cedric Cole, the executive manager of diversity and affirmative action program. The memo says Child’s behavior could reasonably be construed as causing a “Sexual Harassment/Hostile Work Environment.”
Dec. 5, 2016: Six weeks after the memo, Skorkowsky formally bans Child from visiting schools without express written permission. Child does not return calls for comment that day.
Dec. 6, 2016: Child again declines to comment on the issue.
Dec. 7, 2016: Child denies any wrongdoing with his behavior, calling the complaints unfounded and secret. Child says he has not seen copies of any of the alleged complaints. Child said he was exploring his legal options.