An independent review of the Clark County School District’s culture found there was improvement in the board’s temperament and teamwork in 2023, but said there was still work to be done to repair their reputation for dysfunction, seek representation from different parts of the school district and emphasize a focus on student outcomes.
The board heard the results of a culture and climate study at a work session Wednesday. This comes after years of controversy and infighting among board members, and after district employees said at School Board meetings that the district’s culture of retaliation has caused some to fear raising concerns about their taxing workloads, teacher shortages and school violence.
Public Consulting Group, hired to conduct the study, was paid more than $270,000 to conduct the review. Anna d’Entremont, an associate manager in education for the firm, presented a summary of the group’s findings to the board.
She called the board’s decision to undergo the climate review “a very courageous thing to do,” a sentiment that was echoed repeatedly by Superintendent Jesus Jara and other members of the board.
“The work that we’ve put in over the last two years has really been courageous work,” Board President Evelyn Garcia Morales said, “work that has required vulnerability and honesty.”
Concerns raised over workload, social media posts
The review began in January, and the next two months were spent conducting interviews, surveys and focus groups with various stakeholders in the school district.
After an analysis of their results in April, the firm drafted the final report in May. The board trustees had an opportunity to read it before Wednesday’s meeting to discuss its outcome and process.
To complete the study, d’Entremont’s firm analyzed school board meetings as far back as 2021; conducted one-on-one or small group interviews with trustees and members of the executive cabinet; interviewed stakeholders in focus groups; sent out surveys and analyzed local media and social media to gauge the district’s reputation.
D’Entremont said Twitter activity came up often in PSG’s focus groups. In a June 2022 meeting, tensions flared on the board as trustees clashed over social media posts that the board president called unprofessional and negative.
The report also said district staff felt a lack of substantial input in decision-making and are overwhelmed with their workload. Respondents in focus groups spoke of an inconsistent communication process, which contributes to a lack of morale.
“We would encourage greater stakeholder voice at board meetings,” d’Entremont said, suggesting having a non-voting student or reinstituting the Family Advisory Committee.
Superintendent Jara said it was difficult for him to read the report, but its existence was an unprecedented step taken by the district to reform the workplace culture.
“I’m looking forward to doing [the work] with this board, because our kids are counting on all of us,” Jara said.