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Disciplining boss creates awkward predicament for Clark County School District

How do you discipline your own boss?

That’s the question the Clark County School District has faced since as far back as March — likely even before then — when dealing with concerns about Trustee Kevin Child’s interaction with staff.

Concerns involve allegations of “creepy” behavior toward female employees, comments about their “sexiness” and remarks about whom he wants to date, according to an investigative memo the district’s Office of Diversity and Affirmative Action sent to Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky in October.

Child was given rules to follow back in March, when these issues surfaced, but apparently that hasn’t worked.

What, then, was the district doing between then and now to address the issues?

Child himself has said he has wanted to see complaints about him for the past 18 months, an indication that perhaps these problems stem from well before this spring.

The situation puts the district in the awkward predicament of censoring one of its own top leaders. Trustees, who have largely remained silent on the matter, also face the odd dilemma of how to deal with one of their peers.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal requested all complaints regarding Child more than three weeks ago but has yet to receive a response.

“CCSD continues to work on the public records request regarding this matter as it is our intent to carefully balance public disclosure with the priority to protect the confidentiality of all the parties involved,” a spokeswoman said in a statement.

Translation: Complainants are scared to be identified because of possible retaliation. The district wants to protect them.

And with Child seeking a lawyer, the district and other trustees must walk a fine line.

But still, both the public and Child deserve direct answers.

It’s unclear whether other trustees knew about the school visitation restrictions that Skorkowsky issued to Child this month. It’s also unclear whether the investigation results were shared with them directly.

“We support the leadership of the district, and we support the leadership of Trustee Child,” Board President Linda Young said Friday. “We’re very confident that all of this is going to be worked out in an amicable way.”

The dilemma is one that Thomas Alsbury — creator of the balanced governance policy model that trustees are slowly adopting — has seen in his work with school boards nationwide.

It’s very difficult for trustees to discipline one of their own, he said, but part of the problem is a lack of procedure.

“I have not seen a board with a set of policies that specifically tell anybody what to do when something like this happens,” he said.

Alsbury’s “progressive response” protocol included in his model advises school boards on how to address issues with a certain trustee. Trustees adopted the protocol as part of a broader policy in October.

The method contains a series of steps in which the superintendent or board president tries to solve an issue with a trustee who has broken governance policies. If that doesn’t work, the board eventually makes the issue public.

But in the current case of Child — in which the issue is more than one of governance policy — all the public can do is wonder.

On Education appears every other Saturday. Contact Amelia Pak- Harvey at 702-383-4630 or apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

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