Nevada Joint Union High School District Trustee Campbell: Censure by board is ‘ludicrous’
A Nevada Joint Union High School District board member who was censured by her fellow trustees called the censure a “ludicrous” action that “violated my due process rights under the Fifth Amendment” — and said she plans to “seek all legal remedies at my disposal” to hold the board accountable for the damage to her reputation.
“I haven’t done anything,” said Linda Campbell, who has served on the board since 2014. “I find it insulting that I even have to say that.”
The board voted 4-0 at a Sept. 30 special board meeting to censure Campbell, sending a public message that her behavior in a series of recent incidents violated board bylaws designed to ensure board members govern responsibly, treat community members with respect and put the district’s needs ahead of partisan beliefs.
Campbell was not present at that board meeting; Campbell had informed the board that she would be absent prior to the meeting, said Board President Katy Schwarz.
Campbell said she was “shocked” to receive notice of the censure resolution on Sept. 25 when the special meeting’s agenda was posted publicly.
The resolution highlighted Campbell’s behavior on a few recent occasions, including a Sept. 10 incident in which Campbell reportedly confronted Erica Crane, the principal of district-authorized charter Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, in an “extremely agitated and aggressive manner” while disparaging Crane’s preliminary administrative credential and claiming SAEL’s accreditation was “invalid” and its “data and financials were bad,” according to a letter Crane wrote to the board and district Superintendent Louise Johnson.
In addition, it referenced a June incident in which Campbell sent a threatening email to the Nevada County Tea Party, which she later apologized for, and an August incident in which she stormed out of a town hall meeting hosted by Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) after shouting he was spreading “propaganda” and “lies.”
The resolution also cited Campbell as being “regularly late” for scheduled board meetings; board Vice President Jim Adams said Campbell had been late for all but two of the board’s meetings in 2015.
However, Campbell said board members had not expressed any problems with her behavior prior to the motion to censure her appearing on the agenda, with the exception of addressing her tardiness during the closed session portion of a board meeting.
She said she couldn’t recall the date of that meeting.
When asked whether she had been tardy to the number of meetings Adams had suggested, she said, “I don’t keep track. I’m trying to do the job.” She said she could only recall being late to one board meeting, a special meeting that was held to give board members some computer training.
However, board minutes posted to district website record at least seven instances in which she was marked late, entering the meeting anywhere from a few minutes to up to half an hour after board meetings began.
Campbell said she’s never been late to the open session portion of any meeting or missed any vote, and said any tardiness “was because of some things I had to get done.” She said her attendance at board meetings is “none of Adams’ business” and that it is not his job to “take roll.”
The board, she said, is “picking on me for little tiny things that have nothing to do with the really big things.”
Campbell also disputed the board’s account of the reported Sept. 10 incident between herself and Crane. Campbell first said she only spoke to Crane about Crane’s administrative credentials and the school’s accreditation, but then later acknowledged she did also say the school’s data and financials were “in error and wrong.”
But Campbell said her tone was not aggressive.
“I was very calm; I made sure it was between us, not in a public area, no yelling,” Campbell said. “I was very professional, I knew exactly what to say.”
Campbell said no board member talked to her about that incident, or any of the other incidents listed in the resolution.
“They never asked me a question about it, have never said anything about it,” she said.
Schwarz, however, said the board previously held an ethics workshop to discuss appropriate behavior, and also said Johnson has spoken with Campbell on behalf of the board “many times about what happened and issues.”
Schwarz said she tried to talk to Campbell individually about the potential censure, but Campbell refused to talk to her. She said Campbell “was given the opportunity to talk” at the board meeting she didn’t attend on Sept. 30.
Campbell was adamant that her behavior in the incidents mentioned in the resolution didn’t violate or contradict any board bylaws or policies. Her fellow board members, she said, are “using their power as elected officials for personal vendettas to punish behavior they deem inappropriate.”
She maintained that she’s responsible to her constituents, not her fellow board members.
“They are not my superiors or my supervisors and that’s how they’re acting,” Campbell said.
Though several audience members expressed concern about Campbell’s behavior during the public comment portion of the board’s Sept. 30 meeting, Campbell said she hasn’t received any complaints from the public about her performance as a board member.
The board censure is a largely symbolic measure, with no impact on Campbell’s role on the board. Still, Campbell said she is “moving forward” with exploring her legal options to hold the board responsible for what she called “libel, slander and defamation of character.”
She said she had talked to a lawyer, but was not going to put a “time or date” on bringing forward a potential lawsuit.
Schwarz said Campbell had indicated in emails to board members that she was pursuing her legal options, but had not notified board members of any formal legal proceedings.
Schwarz said it was important that the board took a public stand with the censure and defended the action.
“We followed all the right policy and all the right procedures to do what we did,” Schwarz said.
To contact Staff Writer Emily Lavin, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4230.
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