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WCSD trustees, community react to superintendent’s controversial message

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 9:40 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A major topic at the Washoe County School District’s (WCSD) first meeting of 2021 on Tuesday, January 12 was Superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill’s video message to district families regarding the chaos that unfolded in Washington, D.C.

Dr. McNeill’s statement sent out on January 8 said in part, “This was an assault on our nation’s highest institution which stands in stark contrast to the values we have worked to instill in our students... As an educator, parent, and Superintendent of WCSD, I unconditionally condemn the violence and all violent acts.”

Following her message, overwhelming controversy and support ensued in the community, including during public comment at the Board of Trustees meeting.

“I’m asking every one of these board members here to condemn the superintendent’s actions.”

“I did not feel it was political. I did not feel it was telling people how to parent, it was giving resources.”

“The board needs to insist that she either apologize immediately or be charged with insubordination.”

“you never once took a side to either political party, you simply wanted us to know that our school district would stand together and that we are dedicated to having a strong healthy community.”

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Dr. McNeill addressed and acknowledged the difference in opinion regarding her message.

“My statement was not political in nature, my statement reflected my values as an American,” Dr. McNeill said.

KOLO 8 News Now asked the three newly-elected board members their thoughts on her statement. Some were vocal with us, others were not as much, but rather expressed their thoughts on other public platforms.

“I won’t make a comment on that at this time,” Kurt Thigpen, Newly-Elected WCSD Trustee said.

Diane Nicolet, Newly-Elected WCSD Trustee added, “I wondered about the timing. Sometimes I think you have to be careful in the heat of the moment and maybe give things just a bit of time to cool off.”

“Fiscal responsibility and improving the quality of education,” Jeffrey Church, Newly-Elected WCSD Trustee said, “That’s behind us, it’s water under the bridge.”

Although the Superintendent did not apologize or express regret with her statement, Dr. McNeill mentioned that hindsight has given her clarity in this situation. She says she would consider written communication to provide this type of information to families and the community in the future.

What can be agreed on is the need for healthy conversations about what’s happening right now in front of our student’s eyes.

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