Whistleblower claims Beth Smith, WCSD Board President, fabricated false accusations against Trustee Jeff Church

Yesterday, at the April 9 Washoe County School District’s Board of Trustees’ meeting, WCSD Trustee Jeff Church reported that Board President Beth Smith was implicated by a whistleblower of personally conspiring to defame Church by her involvement in the fabrication of harassment accusations made by two female WCSD employees. At the March 12 board meeting, Church mentioned that a whistleblower had come forward with information about Smith, but he referred to a “highly-placed individual in the district” without identifying Smith. Church’s attorney had advised Church to immediately release all whistleblower information including identifying the individual, but district counsel ordered Church not to disclose the identity of the district official. Church believes the harassment allegations were intended to harm his chances for reelection to the school board. Church made the whistleblower announcement revealing Smith’s identity during the April 9 meeting’s public comment period because Smith removed trustee reports from the agenda.

Church has consistently denied the harassment accusations and has provided videotape from district cameras showing him seated alone in the board room when the harassment allegedly occurred. At the March 12 board meeting, Church requested that trustees order an external investigation into the accusations. Smith and other trustees refused to support his request. Smith failed to disclose a potential conflict of interest when she voted to deny the external investigation request. Church told the Nevada Signal that a court date has been set to force the district to comply with existing school district policy regarding investigations,

At the March 12th board meeting, Smith and all trustees except Church approved an additional $500,000 to cover district legal expenses after receiving a 90-minute biased district presentation containing many inaccuracies that accused Church of causing additional district expenses by his requests for information about district issues. Some of the requests were denied by district counsel. Smith failed to disclose the potential conflict of interest in voting to approve the additional legal funds. Church delivered copies of his 19-page document that he claims refute the district’s accusations. He demanded a retraction and an apology for the false statements and accusations made in the presentation. Church stated that the board’s votes to approve the funds and investigation should be rescinded and reheard since trustees were relying on false information.

Asked for comment, Church stated, “Smith is using taxpayer money to hide her involvement in both matters.”

Church also stated during his public comment that Joe Rodriguez, incumbent WCSD trustee and present candidate for Sparks City Council, is improperly or unethically using district property and resources. Rodriguez has published district photos taken by district staff on his campaign website and social media accounts. Church explicitly stated that he does not endorse Rodriguez as his image in the photos implies and demanded that the images be removed.

Rodriguez is presently using McDonald Carano pro bono legal counsel in his lawsuit against the Nevada State Ethics Commission for the $500 fine levied by the commission against Rodriguez for his previous campaign ethics violations. McDonald Carano has represented WCSD in a variety of legal actions and has received over $130,000 from WCSD funds this year. The firm has also provided pro bono legal representation to Trustees Mayberry and Smith. Asked for comment, Church questioned why Trustees Rodriguez, Mayberry and Smith have not reported in-kind donations from McDonald Carano.

Smith declined to provide Nevada Signal with a response to Church’s comments at the time of publishing. Church promises continued updates on the matter.

Church on whistleblower: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06kOF7pNxas&t=15487s

Entire Church public comment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06kOF7pNxas&t=15373s

(By Nevada Signal Staff)

(The views expressed in this commentary are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the Nevada Signal.)