LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The social media conduct of Clark County School District trustees was a flash point at Wednesday's work session, where the behavior of some board members was called "unprofessional" and "out of line."
"When we break our policies, we erode the work of the board, erode public trust," said CCSD board president Irene Cepeda (District D).
Cepeda pleaded for social media decorum and professionalism during Wednesday’s trustee work session. She compiled a list of tweets she felt weren't in line with the conduct of a school board trustee and launched a public discussion on social media use.
"We are in a space where we need to be more mindful about our communications, and it is insane that I spend so much time disciplining trustees when that shouldn't be the case," she said.
Cepeda separated the problematic tweets into categories that included "spreading misinformation or conspiracy theories" and insulting the superintendent or other trustees. The majority of those tweets came from trustees Danielle Ford (District F) and Katie Williams (District B). One tweet from Williams said "communists" were trying to take over children's education. In another tweet, Ford told Williams to shut the "f" up three times after Williams mocked the resignation of a CCSD teacher.
A few trustees expressed their concerns about receiving no reference materials on the issue before the meeting. Ford was angry.
"You are a hypocrite. I'm going to go tweet about it,” she said.
Trustee Williams tweeted after the work session: "Just so you guys are aware...My tweets will not be changing…"
Ford said the board can't regulate the social media posts of individual trustees, a point Cepeda conceded.
"You can ask, but you cannot expect us to willfully give over our 1st Amendment rights,” she said.
Reached by phone, Ford said her social media use is reflective of what her constituents are telling her, and felt Cepeda’s discussion was a waste of time when there were other, more pressing issues the board needed to deal with directly affecting students.
Williams felt not much was gained during the discussion session.
"I, personally, as an individual, don't feel yesterday's work session was productive," she said. "We try our best to get everyone to fall within the guidelines but at the end of the day we are all public officials and are accountable to the people."
Responding to criticism of her social media use, Williams said it was a "tiring conversation."
"We live in a free country. We are lucky enough to live in a place where we can say what we feel and have a civil discourse about subjects," she said. "I say if people don't like what I have to say, they don't have to follow or even acknowledge it. My voters put me in office to tell the truth, and that's what I'm doing."
She also agreed there wasn't much the board as a whole could do about regulating social media use among individual trustees.
"Our board counsel has been very clear that we can't enforce any trustees to act a certain way on social media, regardless of what we find tasteful or not," Williams said.