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Trustee Jeff Church sits in boardroom at the time whistleblowers contend he sexually harassed them in the parking lot. (Photo provided by Jeff Church)

WCSD Trustee Church Files Emergency Request For Opinion With Ethics Commission

Trustee Jeff Church: ‘I expected a fair trail before my hanging, but I was wrong’

By Megan Barth, March 11, 2024 6:01 pm

Over the weekend, the ongoing battle between Washoe County School District (WCSD) and Trustee Jeff Church reached a crescendo, causing Church to file an emergency request for opinion with the Nevada Commission on Ethics (NCOE) this morning, 24 hours prior to tomorrow’s Board meeting.

In his letter, Church notes that Board President Beth Smith denied him the opportunity to defend himself on the dais and rejected a letter from his attorney to be included as a supplemental item on the agenda. (see below)

WCSD Board President Beth Smith (Photo: Ariel Van Cleve for The Nevada Globe)

Instead President Smith will only allow Trustee Church to address the Board and include his attorney’s letter during public comment which is limited to three minutes.

“You are conflicted on both items 3.01 and 3.02 per NRS 281A.420(1)(b) and NRS 281A.400(2). Any trustee conflicted on a matter before the Board may not submit supplemental materials,” Smith told Church in an email sent Sunday.

“You are welcome to provide this as or part of your public comment which also becomes a public record for these items. “

Church further notes in his letter to the NCOE that President Smith is violating Nevada statute supported by Supreme Court precedent.

In response to President Smith’s “gagging,” Church told the press, ” I expected a fair trail before my hanging, but I was wrong.”

Supporters of Trustee Church picket in front of WCSD Administration building (Photo provided by Jeff Church)

For background, the original agenda posted Thursday was updated late Friday with additional claims and descriptions which included allegations that the District is expecting Church to file “additional lawsuits.”

The District reports, but does not list, the 26 Open Meeting Law (OML) complaints and six lawsuits Trustee Church “has been involved with…for a total of 32 formal legal actions against the District since joining the Board in 2021 at an approximate cost of $300,000 to taxpayers so far,” the district wrote. The district also claims that Church recruits “his folks” to file OML complaints and lawsuits.

In their late edits to the agenda, the District further claims that the cost of hiring outside counsel would cost the District $1.2 million to handle the 32 legal claims.

Church’s attorney Luke Busby responded (see below) that the WCSD General Counsel Neil Rombardo is “inflating costs” and “mishandling responses” in their continued failure to disclose public records and adhere to the District’s “own established rules and regulations.”

In filing the Petition for a Writ of Mandate, Trustee Church is not pursuing a claim for damages against the WCSD. Instead, the essence of the petition is to compel WCSD to adhere to its own established rules and regulations concerning the conduct of investigations and to ensure the disclosure of public records. This action seeks not financial compensation but the enforcement of procedural integrity and the rightful access to information deemed public under existing statutes, aiming to uphold the principles of good governance and transparency within WCSD. We dispute the necessity of the proposed expenditure amount. We are concerned that

WCSD General Counsel’s litigation tactics are unnecessarily inflating costs, by, for example, filing lengthy motions in response to the petition, seeking to hold a three-day hearing, where no written response from WCSD was required from the Court in response to Trustee Church’s public records petition.

It is also crucial to address the mishandling of responses to public records requests by WCSD’s counsel that led to the petition, highlighted by the withholding of a “public document” from Trustee Church in response to his records request.

The reluctance of district employees to adhere to established protocols for conducting fair investigations has necessitated the filing of the second Petition for Writ of Mandate.

As The Globe reported, Church filed the Writ of Mandate in March 1, 2024, to compel the District to follow their established policies and Nevada law. Church claims there is a “pattern and a coordinated effort by WCSD to silence and undermine [his] ability to critique WCSD policies effectively.” 

For background, Church was hit with anonymous sexual harassment allegations last fall, yet the District has failed to review the video that Church claims exonerates him.

The District has also failed to provide public records related to these allegations and to at least three applications for a position on the Board of Safe and Healthy Schools.

Church and his lawyer further contend that the District withheld the applications last fall from the Board and the public. Instead, the District provided only one application and didn’t include the last page (page 3) which clearly states that applications are public documents.

According to District policy, applications may be included with the corresponding agenda, yet as public documents they should be produced to any member of the public, including elected officials.

The WCSD board meeting will be held tomorrow morning at 9 am. Church is encouraging the public to attend.

Supplemental Material for Agenda items for 3 12 24 Final


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One thought on “WCSD Trustee Church Files Emergency Request For Opinion With Ethics Commission

  1. Sounds par for the course with this corrupt school district. Need to replace everyone and hopefully find honest members that respect the fact they work for the public and actually answer to the public.

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