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School board meeting cancelled in response to threats of violence

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Elko school board

Elko County Schools Superintendent Jeff Zander, left, sits with the board's two trustees, Ira Wines and Teresa Dastrup, at their Sept. 28 meeting.

ELKO – Another school board meeting has been canceled, this time about three hours before it started due to threats toward board members.

The decision to cancel was “in response to recent threats of violence and concerns for public safety,” according to a statement from the Elko County School District sent shortly after 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

The school district rescheduled the meeting for 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 26.

It has been eight days since the Oct. 12 meeting was adjourned by acting board president Teresa Dastrup when audience members refused to wear masks inside the Central Office board room.

The announcement comes at a difficult time for the school district as the cancellation delays the appointment of new board members to fill five vacancies, said Interim Superintendent Jeff Zander.

“The acts of disorderly conduct at previous board meetings and threats to our board are coinciding with an already difficult time faced by our community,” Zander said. “We are in need of filling vacant school board seats, yet the actions by individuals in our very own communities are making the process very difficult.”

The agenda included the trustee appointments along with items to approve out-of-state-trips for Spring Creek and Wells high school FFA students to attend the Western National Rangeland Contest in Oregon.

The board was also to discuss for possible approval the establishment of four special revenue funds that align with the chart of accounts for the new Pupil Centered Funding Plan by order of the Nevada Department of Education.

The cancellation of yet another meeting “directly affects our day to day management and the oversight of our children, schools, and communities,” Zander added.

Since August, the school district has seen the resignation of five trustees and one acting superintendent, and dealt with outbreaks of Covid-19 at multiple schools throughout Elko County prompting schools to require masks for students.

At the start of the school year, children attending kindergarten through twelfth grade were previously exempted from wearing masks in class due to Emergency Directive 048 that allowed counties with less than 100,000 population to forego face coverings.

Parents expressed frustration with their children being sent home due to exclusions and the mask mandate at board meetings throughout September.

Although Wednesday’s meeting was set to be in-person, the public could also view it on the school district’s YouTube Channel.

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