weather icon Clear

Clark County schools’ disciplinary system appallingly askew

Before Maysen Melton, authorities allege, pinned down a girl and raped her in a sound booth at Shadow Ridge High School, before Melton, authorities allege, blackmailed female classmates and demanded nude photos, before he was expelled from one high school and somehow ended up at another, he had a disciplinary record that began when he was 9.

So how was this 16-year-old student, described by a prosecutor as so dangerous that his bail was raised to $500,000, able to attend classes at Palo Verde High?

Melton’s case is adding to what’s already a growing concern among Clark County School District principals facing a rising tide of school violence. Part of that issue, some say, is that violent student offenders are returning to traditional schools.

While expulsions and behavioral school referrals have decreased significantly from 2013-2017 amid a push to revamp what was widely considered a biased disciplinary system, violence inflicted on students and staff is up.

And the changes haven’t led to any consistency in how discipline is meted out.

Melton was suspended from Bracken Elementary and Bridger Middle schools for sexual harassment and sending inappropriate photos, court documents show. He was expelled from one middle school and had his conditional enrollment revoked at another after inappropriate touching. Finally, after completing a juvenile sex offender program, he was expelled from Shadow Ridge following the rape allegations.

None of that prevented him from attending Palo Verde after a stint in behavioral school.

The expulsion and behavioral school referral were roughly the same punishment that D’Andre Burnett, a Shadow Ridge senior we’re profiling, received.

Burnett got into a bad fight. Melton allegedly raped girls.

Where’s the balance?

Michele and Philip Stodick don’t know.

Their son was expelled from Palo Verde for threatening another student with scissors. They argue he was trying to defend himself against a bully; otherwise he has a clean student record.

Because the scissors were considered a weapon, the offense carried a mandatory expulsion recommendation. The district modified the expulsion to send him to another high school, but that also bothered the Stodicks: If their child really was dangerous, wouldn’t you want him out of school for good?

The district can’t comment on individual cases, so it’s unclear if Melton faced more disciplinary action. A spokeswoman said in an email that the district must provide an education for all students.

Wasn’t online schooling an option?

“We must also consider that some students are unable to access the Internet due to the terms of their house arrest or probation,” the spokeswoman said.

The district also argues that it cannot conduct its own investigation of a student if law enforcement is already doing so. Students have a constitutional right, in the meantime, to a public education.

“We are following the accusations as reported in the media and other information from law enforcement with great concern,” Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky said in a statement. “ … We will continue to work with local law enforcement and the district attorney’s office to cooperate fully with their investigations and the judicial process, and to make any improvements necessary to ensure the safety of all students.”

Sadly, it’s too little, too late for Melton’s classmates.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter. On Education appears every other Saturday.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Clark County schools closure would cut risk, but at what cost?

District leaders are weighing the major reason to close schools — slowing the spread of disease — against dozens of other concerns, including free meals and family disruptions.

On issues of inequity, CCSD doesn’t have to go it alone

Family to Family Connection serves as a birthday party room for kids experiencing housing insecurity, a play area for babies and toddlers and a classroom for all ages.

Would Nevadans support a sales tax increase for schools?

The education funding debate is not unique to the Silver State; nearby states have an array of approaches, with no one having found the right balance.