Throwing a desk at a child isn’t a fireable offense at the Clark County School District — if you’re the husband of the School Board president.
That’s what Ra’Niah Sanders, 11, said Jason Wright, then her fifth-grade teacher, did to her. Wright is married to board president Deanna Wright.
This is more evidence that there is a disturbing pattern of special treatment for this well-connected teacher.
In 2014, the district’s HR department originally recommended that Jason Wright not be allowed to enter the Alternative Routes to Licensure program. Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky overruled that decision and has refused to answer questions about why he got his boss’ spouse a higher-paying job.
In the wake of that decision, two children who attend Harris Elementary School have said that Wright physically assaulted them.
On Oct. 12, Wright told the children in his class to move their desks but became angry about how they were behaving, said Jessica McCray, Ra’Niah’s mom.
“He was pulling the desk out, and he threw it,” said Ra’Niah. “It slid and hit me.”
The desk hit Ra’Niah hard enough to leave “bruising” on her upper right leg, which her mom said lasted for a couple of weeks.
“I did start crying, because it did hurt,” said Ra’Niah. “He was saying that he was sorry, and then he went back to what he was talking about.”
McCray never got a call from the school. Instead she didn’t find out about it until her daughter came home. Before the office closed that day, McCray demanded to meet with then-Principal Shawn Nielson.
The next day, the principal “told me there was going to be an investigation done (and that) they would let me know exactly what was going to transpire after the investigation,” said McCray. “But I haven’t heard anything.”
Records provided by the district reveal that there wasn’t a police investigation into this incident. That implies of a cover-up considering the seriousness of the student’s allegations. If there was an internal inquiry, the district isn’t talking about it.
“We thoroughly investigate and address all concerns regarding our employees to ensure student safety,” said district communications chief Kirsten Searer. “We cannot comment on individual investigations.”
In March, the district transferred Jason Wright to another school after Jayden Zelaya-Ramos said Wright kicked him in the hand. School district police investigated Wright for battery after finding Jayden’s hand was “swollen and bruised.” Despite Wright not talking with the officer and other students supporting Jayden’s story, police decided not to press charges.
Interviewed separately, Ra’Niah and Jayden each corroborated key details in the other’s story.
“He was mad,” said Jayden about what happened to Ra’Niah. “He got a desk and threw it. It hit a girl in my class in her leg.”
“Mr. Wright kicked his hand,” said Ra’Niah about the incident with Jayden. “Then he picked him up and threw him on the tree.”
Both said Wright lashed out verbally, too. He told the class they made him “not want to be a teacher anymore,” recalled Jayden. Ra’Niah recalls Wright telling them, “You guys act worse than animals.” She said that “made me feel kind of upset, because I didn’t want to be compared to a dog, because that’s not nice.”
Neither Jason nor Deanna Wright returned calls seeking comment.
“Had an investigation happened back (in October) and had something been done back then, it could have prevented other things from happening,” said McCray. “But it didn’t. The fact that he’s at another school and he has the opportunity to go and do this to another child, I’m completely uncomfortable with that.”
After what her daughter went through, she should be uncomfortable. The question is: Why isn’t the district? But you already know why.
This situation demands an outside and independent investigator — before another child gets hurt.
Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Opinion section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.