For Immediate Release
April 20, 2016
At the Douglas County School District Board of Education meeting last night, Grace Davis, a sophomore at Ponderosa High School, gave public comment about a meeting she was called to by Board President Meghann Silverthorn and Vice President Judi Reynolds without her parents’ knowledge or consent, despite the fact that she was just 15 years old at the time. Ms. Davis described how she felt bullied and intimidated, and outlined several meetings she or her parents had with various district personnel. She also informed the Board that she had recorded the meeting and had provided a copy to each of them on March 30. When Director Benevento’s attempt to stop the motion by stating he did not receive the recording was refuted, he then tried a new tactic of debating procedural issues by stating that his colleagues’ behavior could not be discussed because it wasn’t an agenda item. Ms. Davis responded with, “My mental health is not an agenda item.”
The audio recording was released concurrent with the start of the board meeting. Douglas County Parents (DCP) has listened to the recording in its entirety and we are appalled by the actions of these two school board members. As adults in positions of authority, their words were at times inappropriate, intimidating, and in direct violation of the District’s Student Code of Conduct.* As members of the Board of Education, President Silverthorn and Vice President Reynolds have a duty to lead by example and should hold themselves to at least as high a standard as that required of our students. Such a flagrant disregard for Ms. Davis’ rights and well-being is unconscionable.
During the meeting with Ms. Davis, President Silverthorn lied directly to her, referencing a student protest in Denver. In an apparent attempt to intimidate, she states a police officer was “struck by an angry motorist” during that protest. In fact, the Denver police officer working a Black Lives Matter protest was struck by a driver who suffered a seizure. The two went on to scare the student with possibility of a gunman attending the event, unfavorable financial implications to her family because of alleged liability concerns, and other possible scenarios. Both women also extensively questioned Ms. Davis’ 1st Amendment rights. President Silverthorn also lied publicly on the radio, stating that this protest was organized by adults.
DCP does not believe waiting for a third-party investigation to be completed is necessary, as was discussed at length in last night’s board meeting. It is clear from the audio, Ms. Davis’ personal testimony, and their behavior in last night’s meeting that adults in a position of authority bullied and intimidated her. The student’s parents had no knowledge of the meeting with their underage daughter. It is obvious that Silverthorn and Reynolds were pressuring the student to call off the protest and did not bother to respond to her alarmed parents for nearly 3 weeks. As a result of these actions, Douglas County Parents is calling for the immediate resignation of President Meghann Silverthorn and Vice President Judith Reynolds.
“The Board of Education recognizes the negative impact that bullying has on student health, welfare, and safety and on the learning environment at school. Bullying is prohibited on all District property, at District or school-sanctioned activities or events, when students are being transported in vehicles dispatched by the District or one of its schools, and off school property when such conduct has a nexus to school or any District curricular or non curricular activity or event.”
“Bullying” means any written, verbal or pictorial expression, physical act or gesture, or a pattern thereof by a student that is intended to cause distress upon one or more students and is sufficiently severe that it has the effect of: 1. creating an intimidating, hostile, or significantly offensive environment for the learning or performance of school-sanctioned activities of any student; or 2. unreasonably interfering with or disrupting the educational performance or participation in any other school-sanctioned activity of any student.