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Possible threats led school board to end meeting, trustees say

Updated August 23, 2019 - 7:05 pm

The Clark County School Board abruptly ended its meeting on Thursday night because of potential threats against board members, two trustees said on Friday.

Trustees Linda Cavazos and Danielle Ford provided few details about the potential threats, but indicated that they were told they were circulating among the audience and on social media.

Ford said that posts on social media indicated that something was going to happen or that people would be looking for a certain trustee after the meeting.

Sgt. Brian Zink, a spokesman for the school district police, said reports about the possible threats was relayed in a comment to a trustee by an individual who reported seeing them on social media. As soon as a threat is made or comes in, he said, there are protocols that are followed, though he referred questions about why the meeting was adjourned to the school district.

Following public comments from angry teachers who routinely chanted to express their displeasure over a new proposed contract at the meeting, the board went into a recess behind the theater stage at Liberty High School. Trustees said they did that because they could not hear one another against the shouting.

While behind closed doors, the board was notified of the possible threats, Cavazos and Ford said.

Even though some trustees wanted to continue the meeting and did not think there was a real threat, they were advise to adjourn, they said.

Trustees were escorted to their cars by police as teachers chanted outside the auditorium.

Ford said she wanted to resume the meeting, but police were concerned about the hundreds of people in the auditorium.

Cavazos said she was ready to walk off the stage and into the audience and start talking to people.

“When you have a union leader like Vikki Courtney that is inciting everyone to keep screaming and yelling instead of us actually hearing what you have to say to me … they’re defeating their own purpose, they’re holding themselves back,” she said. “At this point all we can do is move on. I’m so tired of the drama.”

After the meeting, Cavazos said that a man and a woman dressed in red — the color worn by many of the protesting teachers — followed her in a car on the way home.

“I drove to a nearby shopping center and I got out of my truck to confront them,” she said. “I didn’t feel threatened, I just felt that they were being foolish. I could see that they were laughing, they had sunglasses on, they stayed far enough back.”

When she went to talk to them, she said, they drove off.

A district spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Asked about the threats, John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association, said on Friday that the union does not condone or engage in that kind of behavior.

Emotions are running high in the district over a deadlock in contract talks between the district and the teachers union.

While the district has offered a 3-percent raise and 2-percent increase — plus an increase in health care contributions — it has refused to give raises to some 2,600 educators who have completed enough professional development activities to move across a column in the salary table.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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