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‘Take back the school district’: Former CCSD trustee plans new podcast

Former Clark County School Board trustee Danielle Ford, who was one of the loudest critics of the district’s embattled Superintendent Jesus Jara, plans to launch a podcast by early June focused on education issues.

Ford mentioned her new project earlier this month while giving a public comment at a School Board work session, saying she’d uncover corruption in the school district.

Ford told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that she’ll likely name the podcast “Unraveling Education.” It will be available on major platforms such as iTunes and Spotify.

After departing the school board after four years, Ford said she felt like there was a lot the community — and people across the nation — should know about what’s happening in Clark County.

“I felt like I have a unique perspective,” she said.

The school district didn’t respond to a request for comment about Ford’s podcast.

Ford — who was elected in 2018 — lost the general election in November to Irene Bustamante Adams, a former state legislator who’s the deputy director of a local workforce development board.

During her tenure, Ford was among four trustees who voted to terminate Jara’s contract in October 2021, but a majority of trustees reversed course the following month.

During her public comment at the May 3 work session, Ford said it was obvious that Jara doesn’t want to be superintendent anymore and that the Clark County Education Association — led by “Jara’s buddy” John Vellardita — are involved.

The union recently released survey and poll results showing the majority of respondents have no confidence in Jara. Its representative council voted unanimously on a resolution calling for the superintendent to resign.

Ford alleged the “no confidence” survey results are being used as leverage for trustees Lola Brooks and Evelyn Garcia Morales — who are up for re-election next year — to be able to fire Jara and take credit for listening to the public.

If Jara is fired “for convenience,” the board would still have to pay out the remainder of his contract.

Brooks wrote in a Thursday statement to the Review-Journal that the comments alleged that she and Garcia Morales are conspiring with the teachers union to oust Jara.

“The events that transpired since that statement was made demonstrate how off base her speculations tend to be,” Brooks wrote. “Hopefully, Danielle recognizes she doesn’t have the same legal protections as a private citizen, when it comes to libel and slander, that she enjoyed as an elected official.”

At the end of the day, voters made their choice, Brooks wrote. “Danielle’s continued behavior demonstrates they made the correct one.”

Garcia Morales said in a statement that the community and district had a lot of work to do to continue prioritizing education.

“The Board of Trustees are laser focused on student outcomes and healing from a tumultuous past,” she wrote. “We have no room for distractions.”

‘Full blown corporate takeover’

Ford said her new podcast will delve into topics like how heavily local education is being influenced by national companies.

Ford — who said she’ll also share her experience as a trustee — noted the podcast will help empower the community to advocate for their children and others, and “essentially take back the school district.”

She said it will inform people and help them evaluate what might be happening in their districts in order to prevent “full blown corporate takeover.”

With billions of dollars involved annually, “education is big business,” she said. “There are bad actors in education, but it’s not the ones people think we should be worried about.”

Ford said she’ll cover topics such as school board governance, sex education, anti-racism initiatives and critical race theory. She’ll also talk about topics of interest to parents, she said, including recess, school start times and extracurricular activities.

Ford said that with each topic she covers, she’ll link it to history, talk about how it’s applied in Clark County and what other districts nationwide are doing.

Ford said the first series of about 10 episodes will be her speaking. From there, it will delve deeper into topics where she plans to bring in experts.

At least in the beginning, Ford said she’ll ask for support through donations and sponsorships.

Ford, whose background is in marketing, said she hopes to market the podcast nationally and speak to interested school boards in the future.

“I’m hoping that it expands to more than just a podcast,” she said.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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