A note about Douglas County

I grew up in Douglas County schools, supported and educated by amazing teachers. I’ve watched my earliest friends and former classmates go on to become teachers in the district. It’s a powerful legacy for a school district to foster its own succession plan – for students to become teachers in the same district because they genuinely loved their school experience and want to share it.

I learned ethics, business skills like web design – winning two state-wide awards, improv, history, garnered a love for great writing and hard math, and went on to graduate from Colorado State University four years after leaving DCSD in large part because my teachers felt empowered to provide amazing opportunities to learn and grow.

As someone who has been elected to serve on Boards, what happened in DCSD on Friday is beyond the pale and should be concerning to you no matter what political leanings you have.

The laundry list of concerning issues is long, but here are some highlights:

  • Public comment was not allowed and public notice was insufficiently timed
  • Four members of the Board very clearly conspired to violate and actually violated the Colorado Sunshine Law to coerce a District employee to resign rather than be fired, admitting to doing so DURING the meeting, and documented on-the-record proof from recorded conversations that these violations did occur and were purposefully planned, not incidental
  • Roberts Rules of Order govern how the meeting is conducted, the Chair seemed to have no concept of the implications, timing, or order of operations
  • the four members of the Board in violation of the Sunshine Law indicated ON RECORD that the outcome of their decision was subject to the prior conduct of the other three Board members – and what they did when learning of the violation of the Sunshine Law by the violating four
  • the Chair did not call a motion to the floor before requesting final comments and a vote on a termination of the DCSD superintendent without cause and none of the four in concurence could articulate a coherent rationale for the firing

In short: any DECA, FBLA, or TSA student officer would have been able to run this meeting in a more ethical way.

The long-term ramifications of a Board that operates with willy-nilly regard for proper process, ethics, or accountability are staggering. Act-first, fix-later is a bad way to govern a school district.

The DCSD Board has insurance and vendors, visible via public documentation of the District’s finances. Some public pressure via letters voicing concerns to those support structures will not go unnoticed by the Board.

The amount of money and time wasted by the District to defend this and future actions of an ethically-and-procedurally-lax Board, and anxiety and exhaustion on the part of DCSD staff battling distractions to education and opportunity creation on all fronts, will quickly erode opportunities for the students in these schools, despite Herculean efforts by teachers.

Friends in Douglas County: now’s the time to lean in and volunteer like crazy. While the superintendent sets the tone for the staff, ultimately it’s the community engagement that can right or sink the ship. Step in, support teachers, support staff, support schools, and offset whatever unethical, politicized, and/or poorly-processed nonsense comes from on-high to sabotage the education of generations to come. These students are counting on you.

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