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The Clark County School District starts the year with challenges, TikTok and otherwise

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Solen Feyissa/Unsplash

Besides coping with the pandemic, the start of the 2021 school year has had some bumps in Southern Nevada as administrators deal with everything from crazy TiikTok challenges to buses running hours late.

The TikTok challenges — in which students attempt video dares — have been blamed for an uptick in vandalism on Clark County School District campuses.

“These actions appear to be tied to a social media trend and are creating a nuisance on our campuses and in the surrounding community,” said a letter sent to parents by the district.

The president of the Nevada PTA said the parents she has spoken with are “shocked and saddened” by the outbreak of vandalism and concern over what it means for their own children.

“There's been a lot of concern from parents because it's changed bathroom policies,” Rebecca Dirks Garcia told State of Nevada. “There's much more supervision regarding bathroom breaks, for example, kids can only use certain bathrooms.

“Some of that is due to vandalism. Some of that is just to make sure that there's adult supervision.”

A UNLV psychology professor said the chance to be a social media star might be enough to push vulnerable young people over the edge.

“That's the kind of behavior that comes from people who have a lack of inhibitory control, or disinhibition, whose behaviors, generally speaking, are more out of control and less planned than other people's,” said Associate Professor Stephen Benning. “And so the notoriety that social media allows for these kinds of challenges is amped up for them.”

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Clark County school board President Linda Cavazos said to address the phenomenon, it’s good to understand that social media videos can affect different children in different ways.

“It ranges all the way from elementary kids thinking that it's funny to middle school, feeling a lot of peer pressure, to high school kids basically saying, ‘So what, it's not a big deal.’

Cavazos said while it’s easy to blame the social media platforms, it is up to parents to make their children understand that taking part in these pranks “is not going to be something that is going to further you in your education.”

“I would just say as a parent that there's going to be some consequences and that this is not acceptable.”

PTA President Dirks Garcia said social media can amplify incidents like vandalism, but almost all young people are good citizens.

“Some students here in town have made efforts to do positive challenges,” she said. “Several different schools did a positive response where they loaded the girls’ restroom with feminine hygiene products and other personal care items.”

Other issues have popped up in the six weeks since classes resumed, and those include:

Transportation: A new program began Monday to allow up to 4,000 Clark County students to take RTC buses to campus while the district deals with a shortage of school bus drivers.

“This morning our system is working just fine,” said Francis Francis Julien, deputy CEO for the Regional Transportation Commission. “We didn't see any kind of disruption or overcapacity issues.”

Julien said the RTC’s buses have long transported students and the new program that serves 15 campuses will not change existing RTC routes or schedules.

Trustee vs. school rezoning: Some parents are confusing the redrawing of school trustee districts, required after each census, with a rezoning of school boundaries, which is not happening.

Dirks Garcia said, “I've answered the question that no, it doesn't impact zoning more times than I can count in the last weekend.”

Substitute teachers: An emergency measure that runs through November lowers education requirements for substitute teachers, who are in short supply, to high school diploma or equivalent.

“We are trying to shore up our substitute pool,” said Cavazos, who noted that some schools are unable to staff all of their classrooms.

Guests

Linda Cavazos, president, CCSD Board of Trustees; Francis Julien, deputy CEO, RTC; Rebecca Dirks Garcia, president, Nevada PTA; Stephen Benning, associate professor of psychology, UNLV

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