Churchill County School Board trustees on Sept. 13 discussed a resolution to prohibit the teaching of certain concepts.
Trustees also reinstated a policy to add student representatives to the school board, and the Churchill County High School home construction program has broken ground on its latest project.
Trustee Joe McFadden had requested an item on the agenda for discussion and possible action which asked the board to approve a resolution “prohibiting the teaching of certain concepts based on various classifications regarding an oppressor class; inherent discrimination; moral superiority or inferiority; adverse or affirmative treatment; responsibility for past acts of others; and related matters.”
Sharla Hales, legal counsel to the district, gave some background, and then trustees shared their thoughts. Hales stated she worked on this item at McFadden’s request, but that her presentation should not be considered an endorsement by her or as a recommendation that it be approved.
“It’s fair to say that this document is intended to keep what people see as CRT, or Critical Race Theory, out of the classroom,” Hales said.
Hales noted Lyon County had passed a similar resolution about two years ago and Douglas County had also passed a resolution earlier this calendar year with considerable contention in the community.
McFadden explained he did not take lightly bringing politically energized topics into the school system, but he feels that without specific protections in place, it leaves the door open for anything to happen. He said that he sees part of the board’s role as protecting the future of this district in alignment with the community’s vision and values. McFadden also said his intention with the proposed resolution was to provide a safe and respectful learning environment for all students.
Board President Tricia Strasdin said she had some real issues with the resolution, though not necessarily with the end goal.
“My biggest issue is that it indicates that we don’t trust teachers to have certain and, in my opinion, necessary conversations in the classroom,” Strasdin said. “Teachers can and should teach and model how to hear all sides and be respectful regardless of an opinion.”
Strasdin said students should be encouraged to have difficult conversations in the safe space of the classroom guided by teachers as trusted adults. She also pointed out CRT has not been taught in Churchill County schools because it’s not part of state standards. Strasdin added she would vote no on this resolution, receiving applause from those in attendance.
Board Vice President Matt Hyde also said he would vote against the proposed resolution, saying he has four children who have gone and are going through this district, and he trusts the teachers who have taught them. He also said that under current district policy, a student should not be aware of any teacher’s political affiliation or bias within the classroom.
Acting Clerk Kathryn Whitaker said that one of her first concerns is that the proposed resolution was politically motivated, which goes against the purpose of a school board. She also said that English literature is full of these types of situations which encourage difficult discussions and teach empathy. She felt under the proposed resolution, books with these topics could be censored or banned from the classroom. Whitaker also said that she follows these types of policies and resolutions coming through in other districts, not just in Nevada, and she considers them to be dangerous.
Whitaker reiterated the resolution is politically motivated and said she cannot support something that limits teachers in opportunities to provide all of the things in the district’s profile of a learner.
Superintendent Derild Parsons said these types of classroom discussions are important in creating students who are critical thinkers.
“The thing I know I trust and have faith in is our teachers,” he said.
The proposed resolution was dropped without a motion or a vote due to lack of support.
• Churchill County High School students are invited to apply to join the school board as non-voting members. Parsons, board trustees and CCHS Principal Tim Spencer had discussed possible modifications to a previously deleted policy at two school board meetings in July and August. The policy was reinstated as part of an effort to educate and encourage Churchill County School District students to be involved in a collaborative and democratic process.
Interested high school students should submit a letter of intent to Spencer who will nominate two students for the opportunity each semester. Students may apply for and serve multiple terms.
Student representatives will participate in all open sessions held by the board and bring a student’s perspective of issues on the meeting agendas. They will prepare a written report to be submitted and approved by Parsons before each board meeting on matters as assigned.
Students must be on track for graduation and may earn a half elective credit for each semester they fulfill the requirements as identified by Spencer.
• The students in the recently revived CCHS Construction Home Building course have broken ground for a 1,500-square-foot home on Discovery Drive across from Numa Elementary School. The course is under the instruction of Dave Dakin of Stillwater Homes, LLC.
According to “The Wave” newsletter, Dakin said that the students “will be doing most of the labor, from the concrete, through the framing. They will learn from the various professional subcontractors that will have a part in this build.”
“The Wave” is a new bimonthly newsletter created by the CCHS yearbook students and filled with “reminders, sneak peeks and other school happenings.” The newsletter can be found on Facebook by searching for “Churchill County H.S. The Wave Yearbook.”