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Education

Despite Criticism, McNeill Stands By Post-Insurrection Message

WCSD Superintendent Kristen McNeill is sitting next to Board President Angie Taylor behind a folding table with a black table cloth. Both are looking down as McNeill reads prepared remarks.
Paul Boger
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KUNR
Washoe County School District Superintendent Kristen McNeill reads prepared remarks during the Board of Trustees meeting in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

Washoe County School Superintendent Kristen McNeill says a robocall meant to support families after last week’s attack on the U.S. Capitol may have been better sent in a letter. But McNeill stands by her message despite some criticism.

The call was sent to every family with a student enrolled in the district on Jan. 6.

In the message, McNeill condemned the violence in Washington D.C. and reiterated the district’s commitment to fostering a respectful community. It also reminded parents of the district’s mental health services if needed. But what some heard was a political message which has drawn heated criticism.

Bruce Parks stands in profile behind a lectern. He has a finger pointed at the board as he admonishes them.
Credit Screenshot / WCSD Live Stream
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WCSD Live Stream
Bruce Parks was among those who condemned WCSD Superintendent Kristen McNeill's message from Jan. 6 during the Board of Trustees meeting in Reno, Nev., on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

“I’m asking every one of these board members here to condemn the superintendent’s actions,” said Bruce Parks, one of a handful of public commenters who broached the topic during a school board meeting Tuesday.

“I would like to see a motion from one of you that has a spine that this be an agenda item, open for discussion amongst the board members. If you don’t condemn her actions, then you’re complicit,” Parks continued.

Yet, others voiced support for the superintendent’s decision.

“I felt that her call was very much supporting students and families and giving them resources,” said special education teacher Kristen De Hann.

“It was a reminder for me to take a step back and have the conversation with my children before they saw it on the news or they heard it on the playground,” Beth Martin, a WCSD parent, continued.

For her part, McNeill says she stands by the call but admits it would have been better optics had she used a different method of communication.

“Hindsight has given me clarity,” McNeill said, “and done again, I would consider a written communication to provide this information to our families and to the community.”

When asked if the board is considering whether to take any action against McNeill, newly elected Board President Angie Taylor said no trustee has brought the matter up to her.

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