the plea bargain agreements between Clark County School District
(CCSD) Board President Carolyn Edwards, and Chief Lobbyist (Associate
Superintendent) Joyce Haldeman were negotiated behind closed doors,
members of the public were given three minutes to speak before the
deal was read. During that time, Joe Spencer, a parent activist,
explained to the Commission that he was filing a new complaint against
more school board members. Joe’s complaint is about the use of the
same illegal activities that Edwards and Haldeman just admitted to.
This time he filed complaints against school board members Deanna
Wright and Erin Cranor.
During the “investigation” of the Edwards-Haldeman complaints made by
Michael Silbergleid, the ethics commission failed to uncover the
widespread team of CCSD paid staff and elected officials that
participated in a widely televised effort to advocate for a CCSD tax
increase using CCSD funded staff and facilities. While most local
television stations showed video of school buildings and staff
organizing the campaign to raise taxes, the Silbergleid complaints
centered around such activities as Edwards sending out broadcast
emails using the CCSD email system and Edwards’ secretary.
State law says that it is illegal for public officials to use taxpayer
funding to advocate for or against ballot items. During the 2012
elections, the taxpayers voted a resounding 2-to-1 No vote against
increasing taxes for CCSD. During that election cycle Edwards,
Haldeman and (according to Spencer) Wright and Cranor used money
provided for education to advocate for the tax increase.
According to common knowledge among the CCSD Facilities Department,
the district pays about $1 million per school to set up its email
network. Taxpayers also pay for numerous full-time staff to maintain
and operate the system, secretaries who school board members delegate
to send out emails, and for software to make the system work. If these
board members had told CCSD staff to fire up a $300 million backhoe to
build something per the Democratic Party platform, they would likely
be in bigger trouble now. But apparently no information indicating
such magnitude was presented to the Commission prior to the settlement
on the prior cases.
All four of the emails mentioned in these complaints clearly indicate
the broader involvement of many in the school district. Deanna’s
email, sent out by her secretary, said in part: “If you or anyone you
know would like to participate, please call Community and Government
Relations at 799-1080 or go to
This sentence alone clearly proves that the campaign was being run out
of the CCSD Government Relations Department, sometimes called the PR
department. It also shows that the school district Internet servers
were being used for the same purposes.
According to public assertions by the school board and the CCSD PR
department, lack of parental interest and involvement are key factors
why Nevada is dead last in the nation for K through 12th grade
education. Given that criteria, Joe Spencer should have been the
parent that the school board was wishing for. San Diego County named
March 26, 2012 as Joe Spencer Day. Joe’s student has only been
attending school in Deanna Wright’s District A for approximately one
and a half years, and Joe became an “involved parent” shortly after
arriving. Joe quickly became aware of what he believed were illegal
activities of the board member and voiced his first ethics complaint
about Deanna Wright prior to this complaint. Spencer’s October 2012
prior complaint, which the Ethics Commission refused to follow up on,
was also about Wright’s unauthorized use of email. In that case the
Commission asserted that Spencer failed to provide the evidence. This
is interesting in this case because the commission has an
investigator. But if a citizen complains without doing their own
investigation and obtaining evidence for the commission, then
apparently the commission does nothing.
During the commission hearings, the complainant is not allowed to
present his case. Perhaps these procedural methods used by the Ethics
Commission have something to do with the reason few public officials
are found to be unethical.
Joe Spencer was the 2011 Santee, California Citizen of the Year. Now,
as a recent arrival to Clark County, what is his take on the school
district? “The school district has become an epic failure,” Joe said
in his October 2012 complaint to the Commission. While the outcome of
Joe’s complaint is outstanding, readers will at least understand that
Joe is an astute observer of the obvious.