11/17 WNW, Due Diligence, & Racism – Monday Do List – BOE Meeting Prep

I love Julie cakeApparently some people up in Evergreen thought that the last few months had been very rough on Witt, Newkirk, Williams, and McMinimee.  

To cheer them up, a group of them got together and threw a little event last Monday night (Nov 10th) at The Barn in Evergreen, complete with a cake!

Who were these thoughtful supporters?  The listed sponsors included six Tea Parties, five Republican groups, Jeffco Conservatives, Jeffco Students First, and the American Freedom Party.

The American Freedom Party?  Who are they?

A quick look at Wikipedia brought us to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s entry on the American Freedom Party:

The American Freedom Party (formerly American Third Position) is a political party initially established by racist Southern California skinheads that aims to deport immigrants and return the United States to white rule. The group is now led by a coterie of prominent white nationalists, including corporate lawyer William D. Johnson, virulent anti-Semite Kevin MacDonald and white nationalist radio host James Edwards. David Duke’s former right-hand man, Jamie Kelso, helps with organizing. The party has big plans to run candidates nationwide.”

The last paragraph of their analysis states that the American Freedom Party…

attempts to appeal to a perhaps more independent or Libertarian demographic, in addition to white nationalists…. Its mission statement is where a mention of the AFP’s true leanings occurs. Toward the bottom…it states that it is a party ‘that represents the interests of White Americans and all Americans who support our interests.’”

All of this raises a number of questions, but the biggest one is,

Why did Witt, Newkirk, Williams, McMinimee, the principals of Conifer, Evergreen, and  D’Evelyn high schools, the principal of Ft. Collins Liberty Commons charter school, and Sheila Atwell of Jeffco Students First agree to attend a meeting sponsored, in part, by a white supremacist party?

The first reaction is, maybe they didn’t know?

But that raises the question of:

Didn’t they check the sponsorship list before they agreed to attend?

The list of sponsoring groups is right there on the flyer.

11.10.2014ETPEducationnighteventflyerThe flyer was posted on the My Mountain Town website.  Why didn’t someone check?

What kind of message does it send when the leadership of Jefferson County Public Schools attend a blatantly partisan rally that lists a white supremacist political party as one of its sponsors? A simple check of the American Freedom Party website should have been enough to have every one of the Jeffco officials refusing or canceling immediately.  Certainly even Ken Witt (who is on record as disliking the word ‘diversity’) is not so politically tone-deaf to knowingly attend an event sponsored by a racist hate group.

Why did not anyone check?!

Another possible explanation is that maybe it is simply a mistake.  People who were there say that all the sponsors had posters up indicating their sponsorship. There was no American Freedom Party poster…but there was an Americans For Prosperity poster.  The original flyer does not show American For Prosperity, but they had a poster.  The flyer does shows American Freedom Party, but they did not have a poster.  They both, apparently, go by the initials of “AFP”, so…a simple mistake?

Okay.  That is possible.

But that still leaves unanswered the question:

Didn’t McMinimee, Newkirk, Williams, Witt, and the rest at least check the list of sponsors on the flyer and website?  

It also raises another question:

How did someone working for the Evergreen group confuse Americans For Prosperity with American Freedom Party?

If that person saw “AFP” and did not know what it meant, how did they end up with American Freedom Party?  And why didn’t someone else catch it?

If they did catch it, then why was nothing said about it (such as an apology) at the beginning of the event?

All of this raises strong concerns about the judgement of WNW, McMinimee, Sheila Atwell, and the school principals.  It also raises questions about just what Brad Miller is doing to earn his $90,000/year part-time salary as the “Board’s Attorney” if not to keep them from making this kind of mistake!

Newkirk, McMinimee, the Jeffco Principals, the founder of the newly approved Golden View Classical Academy, and Sheila Atwell showed up…and made no mention of any ‘error’.  As it turns out, perhaps due to the snow, Witt and Williams did not show up Monday night, but sent their regrets.

(Perhaps Mr. Miller earned a small amount of his $250/hr from the time he leaves his house in Colorado Springs, by stopping WNW from possibly violating the Colorado Open Meetings law and having the three of them meet up at the event?)

In addition to being, at best, incredibly careless, failing to do due diligence, absolutely sending the wrong message to our students, teachers, staff, and voters, this failure of judgment has done one more thing.  It gives us a new meaning for WNW:  

Who’s Not Wise….

 (7:00 a.m. update –  Since we published this post, two Jeffco parents have copied us on an email they have sent directly to the JeffCo invitees, e.g., Newkirk, Witt, Williams, McMinimee, Paxton, Alsup, Edwards, and Schuler.  Below is the text from their email with a link to the letter they enclosed.  We will publish the letter also directly on our Facebook link.

Dear Jeffco School Board members Mr. Newkirk, Mr. Witt and Ms. Williams, Jeffco Superintendent Mr. McMinimee, Jeffco high school principals Mr. Paxton (Conifer), Mr. Alsup (Evergreen) & Mr. Edwards (D’Evelyn), and Golden View Classical Academy Founder Derec Shuler (via the office of Tim Matlick – please forward):

Attached please find a letter from fellow Jeffco parent Tina Gurdikian and myself regarding your participation in a meeting co-sponsored by the American Freedom Party. We are anxious to hear your responses to our questions. Please send those to both tgurdikian@hotmail.com <mailto:tgurdikian@hotmail.com> and kellyjjj@me.com <mailto:kellyjjj@me.com> at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your timely attention to this matter.

Kelly Johnson & Tina Gurdikian
Jeffco Parents

Letter Regarding American Freedom Party)

Monday Do List:
We will keep this one short:

  1. Send an email to the Board (board@jeffco.k12.co.us) demanding to know why the District allowed representatives to attend a meeting where a listed sponsor is a white supremacist hate group.  Demand to know why Witt, Newkirk, and Williams agreed to attend.  Include in the email the fact that if it was a simple mistake why didn’t WNW, McMinimee, and the principals check the flyer and website before attending!  Also, why are they associating with people who can confuse a White Racist political party with the Koch billionaire-funded political money group?
  2. If you have not already volunteered to work against WNW’s deconstruction of JeffCo, go to our web page Groups Opposing WNW’s Agenda and choose a group to help!
  3. Do you want to know which of it’s own policies WNW is driving the Board to violate, check our new page “WNW Board Policy Violations”.
  4. Read the Meeting Prep for this Thursday’s Board Meeting.
  5. Plan on going to the Board Meeting!

BOE Thursday Meeting Prep:

When: Thursday November 20, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
Where: 5th Floor Board Room, Education Center, 1829 Denver West Drive, Bldg. 27, Golden
(If you cannot attend, please watch via live video stream at: http://new.livestream.com/accounts/10429076/events/3542310

Note:  This is a “Special” Meeting with a ‘Study/Dialogue’ focus.  As such, Witt, Newkirk, and Williams refuse to allow Public Comment.

Key Agenda Items
Agenda Item 2.01:  First Quarter Financial Report 2014-15
Type: Discussion, Information
PRESENTING STAFF: Kathleen Askelson, interim chief financial officer, Independent auditor, CliftonLarsonAllen, LLP, Members of the Financial Oversight Committee
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to monitor the districtwide condition as outlined in Board executive limitation policies EL-5 Financial Planning and Budgeting and EL-6 Financial Administration. Staff will identify funds, departments and/or schools to monitor closely throughout the year.
BACKGROUND: In compliance with Board executive limitation policy EL-6 Financial Administration, the Board will meet to review and monitor quarterly financial reports.

Attachments: Sept 2014 Transmittal FINAL 1st Quarter.pdf (199 KB),1st QUARTER REPORT Sept 2014 with Appendix-view.pdf (2,737 KB), 2014 11 20 1st Qtr Financial Rept 2014-2015 Presentation.pdf (311 KB), CLA Report on Applying AUP 1st Qtr.pdf (43 KB)

Our Comments: If you do not have the time or the background to wade through the detailed financials, it is always worth reading the “Independent Accountant’s Report” from CliftonLarsonAllen.  In this one the things they paid attention to included:  

The current budget report does not include:

  • The new comp plan WNW rammed down the throats of JCEA without negotitations.
  • the Sol Vista and north Highway 93 growth areas will add up to 3,000 more elementary students and 6,000 overall students in the next few years (WNW seems to think the new charter school they approved – with a maximum capacity of 750, will handle this increase).
  • Mount Evans (the Outdoor Lab) will have significant repairs this quarter.

There is a current deficit of just under $3 million due to timing of property tax collections.

Yellow Flags have been given to:

  • Food Service Fund for higher food costs
  • Charter School Rocky Mountain Deaf School is borrowing $212k from the District while waiting for approval from CDE (Colorado Department of Education) for billing districts higher than normal rates for taking their students.
  • Mountain Phoenix is not borrowing right now, although it is approved for up to $250k.
  • Collegiate Academy is not borrowing right now (it is approved for up to $400k), but the project FTE (Full-Time Enrollment) growth (i.e., more students) did not happen.  Collegiate is counting on increased revenue from the mill levy override to cover the gap.

Other issues coming up include badly needed renovations, upgrades, improvements, and new schools, new technology roll-out, Special Education costs, Student Based Budgeting and Priority Based Budgeting.

Budgets are seen as dull, dry, and boring.  But it is where 90% of the actual building up or tearing down happens.  

Agenda Item 2.02:  Legislative Platform 2015
Type: Discussion
PRESENTING STAFF: Ed Bowditch, district lobbyist
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to discuss its legislative priorities for the 2015 Colorado Legislative Session beginning in January 2015.
BACKGROUND: Annually, the Board prepares a statement of principles and priorities, its Legislative Platform.  This document provides direction to the district lobbyist in the absence of direct Board discussion on any legislative matter during the Legislative Session.

Additionally, before scheduling community engagement opportunities as a board with other local government elected officials, the Board of Education determined its Legislative Platform document should be finalized.

Attachments: Jeffco Legislative Platform 2014.pdf (61 KB), State BOE Draft Legislative Platform 2015.pdf (585 KB)

Our Comments: The school finance goals listed generally sound good, but to a large degree can be summed up as, “Give us more money.  Let us decide where to spend it.  Do not require us to do anything with it we do not like, especially when it comes to hiring and paying teachers.”

When it comes to charter schools, they want the state’s portion of funding to go to the District first, and to keep local school districts as the primary chartering agency.  No mention is made of the hot button issues of PARCC, Common Core, CMAS testing, or the testing regime in general.  It will be interesting to see what the discussion brings up.

Agenda Item 2.03:  2015/16 Budget Development Update and Board Budget Objectives and Priorities
Type: Discussion
PRESENTING STAFF: Kathleen Askelson, interim chief financial officer, Lorri Dugan, director of budget
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive an update on the budget development process, timeline and objectives as well as information, as requested, on polling. Staff is requesting Board direction and input regarding next steps for moving forward with community engagement, approval of the budget objectives, and any specific Board budget priorities that can be incorporated into early 2015/2016 budget projections to be presented in December.
BACKGROUND: At the August 23, 2014, Board of Education meeting, staff presented recommendations for the 2015/16 budget development process. On September 4, 2014, the Board provided input and approved the budget development process and timeline. A component of that process was gathering community input on budgetary priorities. Staff engaged the services of Citizen Budget to develop the community engagement tool. Discussion of the community engagement tool was scheduled for the October 16, 2014, as per the approved timeline. Because discussion was moved from the October 16, 2014, Board of Education meeting and in preparation for input and revisions at the November 6, 2014, Board meeting, an overview of the engagement tool was provided to the Board on October 16 and draft questions were provided on October 24.

At the Board of Education meeting on November 6, 2014, the Board directed staff to provide information on polling. Following discussion of draft questions that were presented for the community engagement portion of the budget development process, the Board decided to have each Board member submit five questions for review and consideration. Staff ceased work with Citizen Budget on the development and implementation of the community engagement tool until further Board direction is provided.

Discussion will include information on budget objectives, polling, community engagement and the budget development process and timeline and Board direction on any specific Board budget priorities that can be identified at this time and incorporated as preliminary placeholders in the early projections scheduled for presentation in December.

Attachments: Budget Objectives pg 25.pdf (69 KB), 2015-16 Budget Development Timeline.pdf (507 KB), Budget questions.pdf (131 KB)

Our Comments: Here is where we can see some of the deconstruction that WNW is planning on for next year.  The Budget Objectives and Timeline documents are worth a quick look, but it is the proposed Budget questions document that needs to be gone over with a microscope.  The first two questions are not too alarming.  The third is a bit confusing.  The fourth is rigged question.

The fifth is where, if you have an interest in early childhood education, every alarm bell in your head ought to be going off at maximum volume.  In this question, the assault on the Free, Full Day Kindergarten (FFDK) program is renewed with additional misleading statements generated by the ‘minority’ of SPAC.

In this question, WNW is laying out its justification for cutting off the best chance the poorest students have of getting a good education.  We believe their motive, as we posted on September 13th, is to free up building space for charter school use.

This is a direct follow-up to Newkirk’s threat in June, to disband the entire FFDK program.

In our opinion, this is a travesty and an direct assault on the most vulnerable of our children.  It is unconscionable.

Questions #6 and #7 are “loaded” in a manner similar to question four, with manipulative words and phrasing trying to push the recipient in a particular direction.

Question #8 makes us wonder if Warren Tech existence has now become a target for WNW.  Why would this be the case?  Perhaps because Jeffco high schools often use classes at Warren Tech for students with an interest in STEM.  If Warren Tech is not there anymore, then a wider opening for a STEM charter school?  The question really is absurd on the face of it.  The cost of moving building trades education out of Warren and to the individual high schools would be huge.  It would require new facilities and additional teachers.  It would also potentially eliminate a number of classes where no one high school would have enough students for a class, but together, via Warren Tech, they do.

All in all, we give this “draft” document an “F” for “fake” and “failing”.

Agenda Item 2.04:  Choice Survey Findings
PRESENTING STAFF: Dr. Syna Morgan, chief academic officer, Dr. Heather MacGillivary, director, Assessment and Research, Mike Freeman, achievement director
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to receive the results of the School Enrollment and Choice Research conducted late Summer and Fall of 2014.
BACKGROUND: The Choice Steering Committee met through Winter/Spring 2014 to advise the Board of Education. As part of their work, a subcommittee formed in May 2014 to design survey and focus group questions for parents.  The purpose of the research was to obtain parent feedback on the enrollment process as well as curricular and extracurricular offerings.  Focus groups occurred over the summer and the parent survey was conducted in September and October.

At the Board of Education meeting on November 6, 2014, the Board directed staff to provide information on polling. Following discussion of draft questions that were presented for the community engagement portion of the budget development process, the Board decided to have each Board member submit five questions for review and consideration. Staff ceased work with Citizen Budget on the development and implementation of the community engagement tool until further Board direction is provided.

Discussion will include information on budget objectives, polling, community engagement and the budget development process and timeline and Board direction on any specific Board budget priorities that can be identified at this time and incorporated as preliminary placeholders in the early projections scheduled for presentation in December.

Attachments: PRESENTATION SchoolEnrollment_Choice.pdf (1,441 KB), SchoolChoiceQuestions_20140828.pdf (535 KB)

Our Comments: If WNW were hoping for results that showed overwhelming support for more charter schools…they did not get it.  This will most likely not stop them from saying that there is, but the actual statistics do not bear them out.

There are some odd results.

The Hispanic community makes up 23% of Jeffco’s student population, but accounted for only 3% of the responses.  This would definitely impact other results, such as the one that shows low support for English as a second language (ESL).  One wonders what that result would be if the survey team had made a successful effort to include the Spanish-speaking part of Jeffco.  This also led to a lower participation by parents whose children are eligible for Free-Reduced Lunches (FRL).  Yet somehow, with this huge discrepancy, the survey firm estimates a margin of error for low income and minority status responses of +/-3%?

If you are intellectually honest, it will be hard to base any decisions on a survey, such as this one, in which a quarter of total population is not adequately represented.  But will that stop Witt, Newkirk, or Williams?

Agenda Item 2.05:  Board Academic Goals
PURPOSE: For the Board of Education to discuss its Ends policies to establish academic goals for the superintendent and district.
BACKGROUND: The Board’s Ends policies 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 include measurable targets for district performance established in December 2013.

Attachments: NAEP and State Test Predictions 2015.pdf (187 KB), DATA Colorado ACT Trends 2014 bag.pdf (101 KB), DATA PISummaryDistrict bag.pdf (23 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary.pdf bag.pdf (45 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary (Ethnicity) bag.pdf (224 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary (Instructional Group) bag.pdf (310 KB), DATA CSAPSchProgSummary (Gender) bag.pdf (91 KB)

Our comments: It is a good thing for the health of Witt, Newkirk, and Williams that they do not suffer from the need to be logically, ethically, or philosophically consistent.  Because if they did, then this agenda item would cause them enormous problems.

On the one hand, they are basing their entire justification for de-constructing Jeffco on the idea that Jeffco is not doing well.  How do they know?  Because of the test results!  The same test results that Williams has pilloried every chance she gets, with tacit support from Witt, Newkirk, and now McMinimee.

So they justify destroying Jeffco using the test scores of tests they say cannot be trusted!

They also neatly ignore the fact that the District from which they draw their inspiration and top personnel, DougCo, has consistently done worse in the tests and rankings than Jeffco.  But then they blast Jeffco for not doing as well as Boulder, Cherry Creek, and Littleton, but do not want to find out why those three districts are performing better.

It’s sort of like deciding your football team is terrible because it’s winning record is not the best.  Then you go about stealing the offensive and defensive schemes, players, and coaches from teams with worse records than yours, while ignoring the teams that have better.

It’s enough to make you say, “Huh”?

If it were the Broncos, we could just shake our head and mutter about the owners.

But when it’s our children…?

Go to the Board Meeting, Jeffco!

Let them know that there will be witnesses to everything they do!



11 thoughts on “11/17 WNW, Due Diligence, & Racism – Monday Do List – BOE Meeting Prep

  1. I applaud your tenacity.

  2. If they discussed board business at all, the meeting is also an open meetings violation.

    When are we going to just recall them?

  3. Note: This is a “Special” Meeting with a ‘Study/Dialogue’ focus. As such, Witt, Newkirk, and Williams refuse to allow Public Comment.

    Posted by Jeffco Public Schools yesterday on Twitter: @JeffcoSchoolsCo
    Jeffco Board of Education mtg Thursday, Study Session 5:30pm, 6:30 reg.mtg.Arvada High. Sign up to speak online: http://bit.ly/1a4PmQX

    Is this common practice, to “speak on-line” at a meeting NOT accepting comments?

    • Sorry, it took us minute to figure out what was going on.

      The meeting you are referring was actually a Regular Meeting proceeded by a one hour “Study Session”. When a “Study Session” precedes a regular meeting, public comment is allowed during the Regular meeting portion, but not the Study Session portion. When the Meeting is a “Special” meeting only, there is no regular meeting and so WNW interpret that to mean no public comment.

      We hope this explains what you found.


  4. I’m curious if you look to wikipedia for all your answers. Laughable at best. Do you realize anyone can edit any page on Wikipedia. It is the worst reference point on the Internet. Hope you don’t send your kids there for information. Oh wait, from what I read, your kids do everything you ask of them, whether they agree or not.

    • Is wikipedia as good as original source? No. Is it good for doing a quick look up then going on to original sources? Yes. Which is what we did. Note, we did not link to Wikipedia, but directly to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s page.

      We were also honest in detailing out our research path. Are you saying you NEVER use Wikipedia? If so, you are one of the rare exceptions….

  5. Have you contacted any of the television stations, specifically Channel 9? This is something Nelson Garcia needs to report on.

  6. From a professional writer’s perspective, Wikipedia is an excellent starting point for in-depth research. You are right, anyone can edit wiki pages, however the edits may be, and often are struck, with explanatory notes.

    Editorial notes describing subjective or unbalanced material abound. Footnotes almost always direct the reader to primary sources. Wikipedia, like everything else on the Internet, has evolved, survived and thrived to the point where a few US Congressmen have plagiarized wiki material with abandon.

    The bigger question, in my mind, is why a person would read through the article above and come up with nothing more disturbing than the writer citing Wikipedia. Regardless of the research tools used, the American Freedom Party is exactly what the writer called it — an extremist white supremacy group which has quite a presence in your state. They actually managed to get a candidate, one Merle Miller on the 2012 presidential ballot in Colo.

    Moreover, AFP proudly sponsored the Education Night in Evergreen. These people of the Jeffco School Board Watch are doing the important and exemplary work of participating in the processes that govern their schools. Too bad more parents don’t do the same until it becomes necessary to undo the mess that political operatives are making of their public schools.

    This is America, though, so everyone has a right to defend the influence of racist extremists on their children’s education.

    As to this bit of your comment:

    “Oh wait, from what I read, your kids do everything you ask of them, whether they agree or not.”

    I assume that was just a passing bit of childish indulgence born of frustration that these people with whom you obviously disagree are having an impact. They are deservedly proud of their children and I have not heard a single one of those children sounding as if words have been put in their mouths.

  7. An important fact about Collegiate enrollment growth. They are down one enrollment from last year (or at least that was reported earlier this fall). All of their growth came from their FREE Full Day Kindergarten offering (paid for by Jeffco tax payers). Last year they had 21 Kindies, this year 51. I called the school and talked to the secretary, who gave me those numbers, then they were reported at the Board meeting. So Collegiate’s marketing plan to garner enrollments from near by neighborhood schools who charge $300 a month for FDK worked like a charmer. If only we could offer free FDK to the free lunch kids throughout the district at our neighborhood schools, but that’s not a priority for our Board. Helping Collegiate implement their marketing plans is their priority. Disgusting!

Comments are closed.