Clark County School District Trustee Kevin Child announced a sweeping lawsuit against fellow trustees and former school district leadership on Friday, months after trustees settled a complaint against the district over his alleged harassing behavior.
The controversial trustee unveiled the 40-page lawsuit at a news conference outside the law offices of Craig Mueller in downtown Las Vegas. The complaint, which alleges defamation, interference with a public officer, and invasion of privacy, among other things, names the Clark County School District, fellow Trustees Carolyn Edwards and Deanna Wright, former Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky, former district lawyer Carlos McDade and former employee Donald “Doc” Harris.
‘I want my name cleared’
“I want my name cleared, that’s all I want,” Child said.
The complaint touches on a number of recent hot-button issues involving the district in an effort to establish reasons why the defendants had it in for Child, including a lawsuit filed by Edward Goldman, an issue with Wright’s husband, a teacher in the district and issues stemming from Skorwkowsky’s handling of negotiations with the teachers union.
The suit also notes the overlap between new Superintendent Jesus Jara, who joined the district in mid-June, and Skorkowsky, who officially retired at the end of June. It says other trustees approved the arrangement so Skorkowsky would complete his full 30 years of service in the district and earn his entire pension.
Mueller acknowledged that proving some of Child’s allegations, including defamation, will be difficult because of the requirement that plaintiffs must show malice and intent. It’s also hard to defame someone who is a publicly elected official by the nature of that position, he said.
But Mueller said there was a witness — whom he would not identify and who is not named in the lawsuit — prepared to testify that complaints against Child were contrived and were directed by the defendants.
The district declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Child is seeking damages in excess of $50,000, but Mueller said there’s a number of ways the lawsuit could end without money changing hands.
Either way the district will have to spend money to defend itself. While that runs contrary to Child’s stance as an advocate for fiscal responsibility, both he and his attorney said that is how the American civil justice system works.
“It’s the nature of our society,” Mueller said.
A history of issues
Issues with Child’s behavior stretch back to before his election to the school board in 2014, and have been well-documented in the district, including an investigation and report by its Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action which concluded Child created a hostile and intimidating work environment.
Skorkowsky twice tried to limit Child’s access to school property, effecting banning him from campuses at one point.
Child has long maintained there are no problems with his behavior and the complaints are a conspiracy against him because he asks tough questions about the district’s financial practices.
In March, the school board approved a settlement for Kim Wooden, the former deputy superintendent in the school district, who had filed complaints against the school district with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over Child’s behavior toward her.
Child called the vote politically incorrect and vowed to sue. Child and Mueller said at the time that the complaint was filed to damage Child’s re-election bid to the school board.
Child made it through a four-candidate primary and will face challenger Irene Cepeda in the general election on Nov. 6.
Cepeda said she was not surprised to learn Child had filed a lawsuit, saying it was hypocritical of him to say he cares about the budget, but to cost the district and taxpayers money by filing his own suit.
“The facts speak for themselves. He had a long, documented history of harassment that traces back way before he was a trustee. Obviously, his behavior continues to be an issue,” Cepeda said Friday.
The Review-Journal has sued the school district to provide more documentation about Child’s alleged behavior, under Nevada’s open records law and that lawsuit is waiting for a ruling by the state Supreme Court to uphold or overturn a lower court ruling stating the documents should be released to the public.