SALT LAKE CITY — A member of the Salt Lake City Board of Education has filed a complaint with the school board’s legal counsel against three other board members alleging “unlawful behavior, discrimination and violation of Utah’s Open and Public Meeting laws.”
Board member Michael Nemelka’s complaint indicates it was filed on behalf of himself, other board members, and students, parents and taxpayers of Salt Lake City.
One of the remedies he apparently seeks is the resignation of board members Katherine Kennedy, Nate Salazar and Samuel Hanson.
Nemelka writes that his complaint is based on news reports of texts and emails between and among school board members regarding the school district’s return-to-school plan deliberations. The communications were obtained through a public records request by Raina Williams, whose five children attend Salt Lake City schools.
In an earlier interview, Williams said communications suggest “there’s just a lot of shady things happening and a lot of bullying to get what you want and manipulation between the board members,” she said.
Some messages suggest active campaigning among some board members to influence the direction of the school district’s return-to-school plan.
At least one email by Kennedy was sent to all board members except Nemelka regarding “an additional set of safety concerns” over returning to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The email states: “I have not bothered to send it to Mr. Nemelka, since I doubt he will be receptive. Please do not respond.”
Nemekla’s complaint, dated Oct. 21, suggests the possibility of a federal lawsuit.
It states: “If you are able to acquire board member Kennedy, board member Hanson and board member Salazar’s resignations, then I would drop my request for an investigation and proceed with a discrimination suit in the federal court.”
It otherwise requests an investigation into the complaint and asks that “a resolution of the same be made.”
It also requests that the complaint be “handled formally” and in accordance with the procedures in Salt Lake School District policy G-19.
Policy G-19 prohibits discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and retaliation.
It says, in part: “The Salt Lake City School District Board of Education is committed to providing a working and learning environment free from harassment, discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. The board values diversity among its students and employees. Accordingly, no otherwise qualified person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to unlawful discrimination in any district program or activity on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status (Protected Classes). These protections apply to students, employees, and other members of the public.”
Kennedy, Salazar nor Hanson returned requests for comment, nor did the school board’s attorney Patrick Tanner, with whom the complaint was lodged.
This story will be updated.
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