EDITORIAL: District dysfunction

April Fool’s Day is almost four months away, but the follies keep coming down at the Clark County School District.

On Monday, Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky barred a member of the School Board from visiting schools without permission from administrators. The notice also informs Trustee Kevin Child that he needs a “specific written invitation” to enter the district administrative offices.

John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association, said his organization has received complaints about Mr. Child’s “inappropriate” conduct. But Mr. Skorkowsky and board members offered no specific reasons for the unprecedented action other than to say the move was taken “in order to ensure a safe and respectful working environment.”

The public deserves better. If Mr. Child’s alleged transgressions have risen to this level, Mr. Skorkowsky and the district owe taxpayers more than secrecy coupled with rumor and innuendo.

Meanwhile, the infighting and turf wars over a state effort to reorganize the district — the nation’s fifth largest —and to turn a handful of failing schools into charter campuses continues unabated. Some members of the school board have made clear their opposition to both reforms.

In response, they’ve included an item on Thursday’s meeting agenda to discuss hiring another executive to oversee the reorganization and charter issues for the district. It’s a thinly veiled effort by defenders of the status quo to neuter Mr. Skorkowsky and undermine state legislation intended to improve student achievement.

Against this unfortunate backdrop, Nevada’s schools continue to perform at low levels. Basic proficiency in math and English still escapes far too many students who are routinely promoted through the system despite lacking rudimentary skills. A majority of the district’s graduates who attend college in Nevada aren’t prepared for university-level work. The district’s ACT scores are among the worst in the nation.

Impassioned debate and disagreement are a healthy aspect of the democratic process. But the school board teeters on the edge of chaos and dysfunction. There seems to be more urgency to preserve power than to take the bold steps necessary to improve educational outcomes.

And that’s no joke — especially for the thousands of children forced to attend one of the district’s many foundering schools.

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