Criminal charges will not be filed against school board trustee |

Criminal charges will not be filed against school board trustee

by: Teri Vance

VIRGINIA CITY – Storey County District Attorney Janet Hess decided Wednesday not to file charges against Tom Purkey, a former Storey County School Board Trustee and spokesperson for the board.

Christine Prater, a Virginia City High School teacher and spokesperson for the teachers union, filed an incident report earlier this month with the sheriff’s department against Purkey for harassment.

The sheriff’s department referred the case to the district attorney.

“I do not believe that a crime had in fact occurred,” Hess said.

In her statement filed on Dec. 21, Prater said that Purkey called her at school on Dec. 2 and the two had an argument about teachers’ salaries and the low scores on the proficiency exams within the district.

In her statement, Prater wrote, “He added that he would not consider granting any pay increases until these scores improved, that he was furious, and that ‘There’s going to be hell to pay!'”

Purkey said he meant there would “be hell to pay” once the consequences of the low test scores hit Storey County. He said property value could drop if parents decide to pull their children out of the Storey County School District.

“I didn’t mean it as a threat, I meant it as a prediction,” Purkey said. “As a parent and as a citizen, I am concerned about the low test scores.”

Prater said Purkey called later that night to apologize for the confrontation.

The report stated that he left a message on the answering machine that said, “I was out of line there, laying into you, especially at school.”

However, Purkey went to the school the following morning and according to Prater, “Mr. Purkey reached out and grabbed my shoulder, forcibly turning me around.”

Purkey denies this claim.

“There was no physical contact of any kind,” he said.

He said the incident was just a misunderstanding and added that he had not heard anything about the report filed.

Purkey’s resignation from the school board was effective on Dec. 17, following his decision to move to Reno. He said the disagreement with Prater had “absolutely nothing” to do with his decision to resign.

“In fact, being on the school board is the one thing I would have stayed for,” Purkey said. “Unfortunately, some family issues came up and we sold our house in Virginia City and moved.”

Purkey said the incident was blown out of proportion.

“This whole thing is ridiculous,” he said.

He said he has written a letter to the teachers union, but did not want to disclose the contents of the letter.

In her statement, Prater said she did not feel threatened by Purkey but wanted the incident on record.

“If Mr. Purkey wants to speak to me about anything, he should go through the proper channels rather than accosting me at my place of employment,” Prater concluded in her report.

Bob Scott, the interim superintendent, did not want to comment.