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August 23, 2019

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Outside complaint led to ban of School Board member, Skorkowsky says

Mission High School Official Opening

Steve Marcus

Clark County School District Board trustees, from left, Kevin Child, Carolyn Edwards, and Deanna Wright, applaud during the official opening ceremony for Mission High School Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. The school, currently with 21 students, is the first all-public, recovery high school in the U.S., designed for students in recovery from substance abuse and dependency.

Click to enlarge photo

Pat Skorkowsky, Clark County School District superintendent, listens to a question during an editorial board meeting at the Las Vegas Sun Tuesday Jan. 21, 2014.

Clark County School Board member Kevin Child was the subject of a complaint from an outside government agency for his behavior on a school campus, spurring Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky to trespass and ban him from district property last month.

Skorkowsky cited that complaint and several others from within the district — such as unannounced visits to schools, making comments that embarrassed students, and threatening jobs of staff members who have complained about him — as reason for an Oct. 24 memo that essentially prevents him from stepping on school property.

“This is just one of the recent complaints I have received about Trustee Child’s behavior, despite my repeated attempts to coach him about his behavior around staff and students, as well as attempts made by his colleagues on the board and our attorneys,” Skorkowsky said in the letter.

The government agency, which district representatives refused to identify Thursday, has also launched an investigation into Child’s conduct, Skorkowsky said in the letter.

Child said Thursday night he believed he was trespassed as part of an effort from Skorkowsky’s office to “get payback” against the departing superintendent’s biggest critics during his final months at the head of the school district. Skorkowsky, who will retire in June, vowed to exercise “greater freedoms” to deal with his critics in a Sept. 7 speech announcing his retirement.

Child, 55, has been a vocal opponent of Skorkowsky’s handling of district finances, which led to a budget deficit of about $80 million for the 2017-18 school year.

“I have a no-nonsense mindset for that stuff,” Child said, referring to the budget.

Child said his behavior since being elected to the school board in 2014 has always included unplanned visits to schools, where he’ll “drop in” to offer advice to students. Among items he said could be seen as controversial included a closed-eyes poll in middle school classrooms of how many students at one time had been suicidal.

During a recent visit, he said 18 of 30 students in a classroom had raised their hands to that question.

“I tell them to close their eyes and raise their hand, just to show them that everybody wants to feel loved, and that we all need to feel loved,” he said.

Child disputed claims that he threatened to fire district employees who complained about him, saying he does not have the authority to terminate employee contacts.

Both Skorkowsky and Child said the embattled trustee has ignored the superintendent’s trespass order and continues to visit schools. Child said that despite Skorkowsky’s warning to stay off campus, he’ll continue to “to be an overseer” of the district.

“I’m passionate about what I do,” Child said. “I’ve never done anything wrong to nobody.”