Ethics claims, growing pains define school board races in Nevada and North Dakota

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June 5, 2014

By Nick Katers

School Board badge.png

Clark County school board candidate Joe Spencer hopes to follow ethics claims against board member Erin E. Cranor with a primary day victory on June 10, 2014. Spencer spurred a state ethics investigation against four board members after claiming that trustees used district resources to support a tax levy vote in 2012. Cranor is one of three incumbents in the primary with Stavan Corbett and Carolyn Edwards facing challengers in Districts D and F, respectively. Candidates in the Clark County race have already raised $69,000 with another five months until the general election on November 4, 2014.[1]

The Nevada Commission on Ethics ruled on February 21, 2014, that Cranor did use district resources to advocate for the levy but her actions did not "willfully violate" state law and no penalty was issued.[2] Spencer and fellow challenger Ira Kimball have also criticized the board for wasteful spending and an inability to improve student performance.[3] Spencer, Cranor and Kimball are hoping to advance from the District G primary to a general election on November 4, 2014.

The District G race in Clark County has drawn plenty of attention but four other school districts among America's largest districts are holding elections on June 10, 2014. Voters in Clark County will also narrow the field with primaries in Districts D and F. The primary ballot in Washoe County School District features three races, including a wide-open race for District F, where current member Estela Gutierrez decided against running for re-election in 2014. Bismarck and Fargo, North Dakota's two largest cities, are holding general elections for a combined eight board seats. Both districts will add new members to the fold as half of the board members with expiring board terms did not seek re-election. Board members in Bismarck and Fargo will need to deal with the consequences of growing enrollment due to the region's energy boom.[4]

Kershaw County School District in South Carolina is also holding a general election for four available seats. There are competitive races for Seats 2 and 8 while incumbents in Seats 4 and 6 are running unopposed. A total of 43 candidates, including 13 incumbents, are seeking election to 18 available seats in five districts on June 10, 2014.

Spotlight: Clark County School District

Clark County School District logo.jpg

Administrators and school board members in Clark County face continued scrutiny for their management of district schools. The district was investigated in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education for graduation rate inflation and by the Nevada Department of Education for allegations of standardized test cheating at Matt Kelly Elementary School.[5][6] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) also sued the district in federal court on behalf of two parents who allege that the district mishandled bullying incidents at Greenspun Junior High School in 2011.[7]

District scores on the state-issued Criterion Referenced Tests (CRT) have also raised concerns among parents and school board candidates. The district fell bellow state CRT averages in reading and math for four out of six grade levels during the 2012-2013 school year. Clark County schools also sank below the state average for science scores on the CRT for students in grades five and eight. Future board members must also wrangle an annual budget that exceeded $3.2 billion during the 2013-2014 school year, which is the largest budget among Nevada's school districts.


Note: An (i) next to a candidate's name indicates incumbent status.


Clark County School District
District D
UncheckedBox.jpg Kevin Child
UncheckedBox.jpg Stavan Corbett (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Wesley Cornwell
UncheckedBox.jpg Charles Ware

District F
UncheckedBox.jpg Carolyn Edwards (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Ileetha J. Groom
UncheckedBox.jpg Ralph Krauss

District G
UncheckedBox.jpg Erin E. Cranor (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Ira Kimball
UncheckedBox.jpg Joe Spencer

Washoe County School District
District B
UncheckedBox.jpg John R. Mayer (i)

District C
UncheckedBox.jpg Carlos Cardoso
UncheckedBox.jpg Barbara Clark (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Nick Smith

District F
UncheckedBox.jpg Valerie Bourquin-Brown
UncheckedBox.jpg Veronica Frenkel
UncheckedBox.jpg Ronald A. King
UncheckedBox.jpg Rick Saake
UncheckedBox.jpg Jim Shaw
UncheckedBox.jpg John Wynn

North Dakota

Bismarck Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Karl Lembke
UncheckedBox.jpg Matthew Sagsveen (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Rissa Williams
UncheckedBox.jpg Karalee Harper
UncheckedBox.jpg Michael A. Holly
UncheckedBox.jpg Scott Halvorson (i)

Fargo Public Schools
UncheckedBox.jpg Teri-Lee C. James
UncheckedBox.jpg Jennifer Benson
UncheckedBox.jpg David Paulson
UncheckedBox.jpg Scott Dahms
UncheckedBox.jpg Rebecca Knutson
UncheckedBox.jpg Dinah Goldenberg (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Linda Boyd (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Ahmed Kamel
UncheckedBox.jpg Marty Livingood
UncheckedBox.jpg Brian Martin
UncheckedBox.jpg Tyler Jon Anderson

South Carolina

Kershaw County School District
Seat 2
UncheckedBox.jpg Mark Sury
UncheckedBox.jpg Nissary Wood (i)

Seat 4
UncheckedBox.jpg Shirley L. Halley (i)

Seat 6
UncheckedBox.jpg Kim Horton DuRant (i)

Seat 8
UncheckedBox.jpg Donald Copley (i)
UncheckedBox.jpg Charles King

See also