Today at 5 p.m., the Douglas County School District School Board will meet for what is likely to be another heated and contentious session.
The reunion takes place against the backdrop of ex-Superintendent Corey Wise preparing for a possible trial for his recent firing; a previously filed lawsuit including a motion for a preliminary injunction to reverse Wise’s dismissal is to be heard in court this week; sharp criticism from the union associated with teachers in the district, including participants in a sick leave supporting Wise who only avoided public shaming after another one threat of legal action; and the potential appointment of Wise’s widely anticipated successor as Erin Kane, a former DCSD acting superintendent known for her advocacy for more guns on campus and her opposition to mandatory masking.
The agenda for the Feb. 22 meeting — which optimistically predicts a 9:15 p.m. end time even though the last board meeting passed midnight — does not definitively indicate whether Kane or someone else will be chosen as superintendent after a week-long search. ; the process usually takes months. But as has been abundantly clear since Wise was fired on Feb. 4, anything can happen when conservative board members Becky Myers, Mike Peterson, Christy Williams and Kaylee Winegar come together.
On February 18, a press release confirmed that Wise had retained the services of Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC, one of the most prominent law firms in the Denver area (his lawyers represented the father of Elijah McClain in a $15 million settlement over the young Black man’s death in 2019 after a brutal encounter with Aurora police officers), as well as a second legal partner, Allen Vellone Wolf Helfrich & Factor PC. a request for registration under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) and a notice of your duty to preserve evidence related to this matter for future litigation. »
Among the items the district is urged to keep rather than discard: “all records, emails, or other digital communications received or sent by current or former members of the Douglas County School Board” related to the policy of fairness of the board, Wise’s termination, Kane’s discussions, and the lawsuit regarding Wise’s dismissal filed by Douglas County resident Robert C. Marshall.
The recording request, which is handled in part by Steve Zansberg of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, emphasizes that it is not technically Wise’s pink slip; instead, the focus is “exclusively on the process by which important public policies – directly affecting some 64,000 students enrolled in DCSD schools and their families – are developed. This process is governed by clear and unambiguously from Colorado: The Colorado Open Meetings Law (COML).This law…requires that at all times three or more members of a “local public body” such as the BOE [Board of Education] plan to discuss public affairs, “in person, by telephone, electronically or by [any] other means of communication”, they must inform the public in advance and allow the public to observe this discussion in real time. »
The Marshall suit specifically names Myers, Peterson, Williams, and Winegar as defendants, and the motion for preliminary injunction asks the 18th Judicial District to “maintain the status quo pending this litigation (and, thereafter, permanently) to guarantee the rights of the applicant (and the general public) to receive advance notice and the opportunity to observe, in real time, the give-and-take discussion among elected officials as they engage in “the formation of public policy” He was handed over to District Judge Jeffrey K. Holmes, who is scheduled to hear from him at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, February 25.
As for the Douglas County Federation, teachers’ union president Kevin DiPasquale has illuminated the district for stating his intention to release the names of instructors who called in sick on Feb. 3 after news broke of the impending doom. de Wise was leaked by members Elizabeth Hanson, Susan Meek and David Ray. The information was to be shared at a special meeting on Feb. 16 in response to a request from CORA, but after attorney Igor Raykin promised to take the district to court if an educator was injured, the case has been abandoned.
DiPasquale’s Feb. 16 statement read, “Each day, educators in the Douglas County school system go above and beyond to show up for their students. Rather than honoring this effort and working with parents and other educators to make schools better and more responsive to student needs, a select few are politicizing our classrooms and using bullying tactics to silence educators and single them out for using their voice.Tonight the community, educators and parents came together and denounced the attempt to expose teachers’ absences, a move that would have violated teachers’ fundamental rights and eroded public trust in the school district and board.”
He adds: “Teachers don’t go into this profession for the money or the gratification. They do it because they care about them and because they want to make sure our children get a high quality education. quality that will prepare them to succeed in the future. We must continue to put an end to these political power grabs that undermine public education and keep good educators away from our schools; this politics of division has no place in our schools or our communities. The Douglas County Conference stands against all forms of harassment, including bullying and retaliation – which is levied on educators and school staff.”
The school board meeting is to be held at the main offices of the Douglas County School District at 620 Wilcox Street in Castle Rock; it can also be viewed online. Click for more information, as well as to read the Corey Wise Colorado Open Records Act Preservation Letter to the Douglas County School District, Robert C. Marshall c. Douglas County School Board, et al., and Motion for Preliminary Injunction.