UPDATED: Sheriff’s Office says official complaint required to investigate alleged vandalism of Park City schools superintendent’s home
UPDATE: According to a report from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, deputies investigated the alleged rock-throwing incident on Friday and determined the broken window was a result of a stress fracture, likely caused by temperature. That finding was confirmed by a local glass company, the report stated. The investigation has been closed.
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office had not opened an investigation into an alleged attack on the home of the Park City School District superintendent as of Friday morning, and a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said the law enforcement agency cannot act unless it receives an official complaint.
No formal report about the incident had been filed by noon Friday. However, Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said Superintendent Jill Gildea was in the process of reporting the incident to deputies as The Park Record went to press Friday afternoon. It was unclear if that report would lead to the opening of an investigation.
District officials have said that on Nov. 1, someone threw a rock through a rear kitchen window of the district-owned Jeremy Ranch home where Gildea lives, calling the incident “absolutely targeted” at Gildea.
District spokesperson Melinda Colton on Thursday declined to comment further on the matter.
“The district has said all it is going to say on this issue,” Colton wrote in an email. “We need to move forward and be about the business of educating our students.”
Board of Education President Andrew Caplan has tied the incident to increasingly aggressive online comments about taxpayer-funded improvements and repairs to the home, though district officials have not elaborated about what led them to that conclusion.
Gildea, who is in her second year leading Park City’s schools, has said the incident left her feeling “disbelief, hurt, sadness and anger” and her family feeling unsafe. The Board of Education has strongly condemned the actions, calling the situation embarrassing and shameful in an opinion piece signed by all five members of the school board and published in the Nov. 6-8 edition of The Park Record.
On Monday, Colton wrote in an email the superintendent did not initially report the broken window “because she isn’t worried about getting it fixed, and she had already alerted the Sheriff about her worries on Oct. 31.” It was unclear what prompted Gildea to contact the authorities on Friday, a week after the incident.
Wright said Gildea initially reached out to Sheriff Justin Martinez on Oct. 31 asking for extra patrols in the neighborhood because a television news crew had been camped out in front of her home.
That was the day a Salt Lake City news outlet published a story about the construction work being done that included photos of the home. The Park Record is not publishing the address of the home in light of safety concerns.
Wright said the Sheriff’s Office decided not to send extra patrols to avoid the appearance that it was trying to intimidate the media. He added that deputies did conduct routine patrols in the area. Wright said that, until Friday, the office had not heard from the superintendent since the initial email Oct. 31. It was the next day that the alleged rock-throwing incident occurred.
Wright said the Sheriff’s Office contacted district officials multiple times, requesting they file a report so the incident could be investigated.
Wright said the charge against someone for throwing a rock through a window would likely be a class B misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to six months in jail and a maximum of a $1,000 fine. Often, penalties could be lower than that if there are mitigating circumstances, like if the perpetrator was a minor pulling a prank.
He said the Sheriff’s Office did not receive increased complaints of criminal mischief in the area on Oct. 31.
The alleged attack comes at a time of increased animus toward the district after neighbors posted details about improvements to the superintendent’s district-owned home on the social media platform Nextdoor, and a continuing controversy about a teacher training program designed to promote inclusivity that anonymous opponents have called LGBTQ indoctrination.
Two district officials said Gildea has been harassed and shouted at on her street about the home repairs, which have been incorrectly portrayed as a project to add a $200,000 heated driveway.
The district has spent $99,000 on home repairs to date including regrading significant parts of the property to avoid water damage and replacing failing retaining walls, said Todd Hauber, the district’s business administrator. That total was $67,000 as of Monday, before another invoice for the work was paid. While the driveway was dug up, crews installed some of the hardware necessary to put in a heating system. That system is not operational and would not be unless other components are added, which would be at the discretion of the Board of Education. Gildea would be responsible for paying for the utility costs for operating the system, Hauber said.
The district has earmarked $200,000 for repairs to the home, which Hauber said was a known cost when the Board of Education purchased the home in 2018 for $870,000.
Caplan, the school board president, called it a scary example of how quickly things can escalate from social media.
“People can start making threats on social media, telling people that they should come by the house, visit the house, see it, etcetera. And then next thing we know, we have a broken window,” Caplan said Monday. “We have a superintendent who is being harassed in her own home and being yelled at by people on the streets.”
Colton has previously said people recently walked through the property’s yard and took pictures of the home.
One Nextdoor post published the home’s address, made claims about taxpayers paying for the repairs and invited people to come visit it and take a tour, as it’s a publicly owned building.
Wright said the Sheriff’s Office was notified about harassment on Nextdoor on Sunday by a resident who said he was concerned about the safety of those in the superintendent’s residence. That and another complaint prompted the agency to reach out to the district to request officials file a report.
“The last thing we want is the community to think we didn’t care,” Wright said.
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Representatives from the American Institute of Architects came to town Thursday, held a community visioning session and dinner Friday, worked all weekend and presented a 75-page report to the community Monday.