(The following information was provided by Wendy McCord, a JeffCo parent and former corporate attorney. She has made several comments to the Board addressing Witt, Newkirk, Williams, and Miller’s failure to comply with the Board’s own policies.)
The Board of Education has NO checks and balances on it from outside, other than the ability of the citizens to elect new board members every two years. The laws that protect the public from unethical board members meeting in secret to plan concerted actions outside of the public eye have very few teeth. And when a board has a similar-minded attorney in their pocket, much information that should be available to the public can be shielded from disclosure.
Therefore, the only watchdog on the Board is the Board itself. The Jefferson County School District has many Board Policies, District Policies and District regulations that apply to it. The purpose of these policies are to ensure that the Board members operate within the parameters of the Board’s duties and responsibilities. There are:
- policies on Ends and Executive Limitations, which set forth the goals and the constraints on the district in meeting those goals.
- governance policies that set forth the manner in which the Board will govern the district.
- Board/Staff linkage policies that clarify that the only member of staff that the Board should direct is the superintendent, and then only within the executive limitations.
- Board Policy, GP-14, even deals with the Process for Addressing Board Member Violations:
The Board and its members are committed to faithful compliance with the provisions of the Board’s policies. In the event of a member’s violation of policy, the Board promptly will seek remedy by the following process, as needed:
First, conversation in a private setting between the member in question and the Board president or other individual member.
Second, discussion in a work session between the member in question and the full Board.
Third, public censure of the member in question.
This, good citizens of Jeffco, is the ONLY recourse or avenue to address Board member misbehavior short of significant legal action.
This is laughable – who addresses violations of law and Board policies? The Board itself?
So when the majority of the Board members are guilty of multiple and repeated blatant policy and law violations, to whom do the remaining Board members and the public go???
And what happens to the bad actors, even if the Board did do something about the violations? They have a little talk?
This Board won’t put any teeth in this policy, but we, the people can!
Messrs Witt, Newkirk and Ms. Williams, we, the people of Jefferson County, hereby demand that you publicly censure yourselves for multiple and repeated violations of:
GP-01 – The Board makes the following commitments to our community for: effective and transparent oversight of the fiscal condition of the district and of the allocation of funds to meet Ends policies communication about the constantly evolving and innovative work of Jeffco schools high expectations for staff and student performance.
Clearly, the BOE3 did not have high expectations for staff & student performance; a number of times over the last several months, both Witt & Williams specifically stated that our students were being made pawns of by the JCEA. That type of statement is neither helpful nor evidence of “high expectations.”
GP-02, The Board will govern with emphasis on:
Mission and Vision
Integrity and truthfulness in all methods and practices
- Outward vision rather than internal preoccupation
- Organizational focus rather than interpersonal issues of the Board
Encouragement of diversity in viewpoints
- Strategic leadership rather than administrative detail
- Clear distinction between Board and superintendent roles
- Collective rather than individual decisions
- Future orientation rather than past or present
- Proactivity rather than reactivity
The Board will cultivate a sense of group responsibility. The Board, not the staff, will be responsible for excellence in governing. The Board will be the initiator of policy, not a reactor to staff initiatives. The Board will use the expertise of individual Board members to enhance the ability of the Board as a body, but will not substitute individual judgments for the Board’s collective values.
The Board will enforce upon itself whatever discipline is needed to govern with excellence. This self-discipline will apply to matters such as attendance, preparation for meetings, policymaking principles, respect of roles, and ensuring the continuity of governance capability.
The Board will direct, control and inspire the district through the careful establishment of written policies reflecting the Board’s values and perspectives. The Board’s major policy focus will be on the intended long-term benefits for students and the community, not on the administrative or programmatic means of attaining those effects.
Continuous Board development will include orientation of candidates and new members in the Board’s governance process and periodic Board evaluation and discussion of process improvement.
The Board will allow no officer, individual or committee of the Board to hinder or be an excuse for not fulfilling its commitments.
The Board will informally debrief the Board’s process and performance at least quarterly. Self-monitoring will include comparison of Board activity and discipline to policies in the Governance Process and Board-Staff Linkage categories.
The Board will encourage diversity of viewpoints in discussion and policy-making. Each Board member, irrespective of their personal position, will be accountable to the public, not as individual Board members, but as a collective body, and, will support the final determination of the Board, as a legitimate Board decision.
Each member of the Board will support (as a legitimate Board decision) the final determination of the Board concerning any particular matter, irrespective of the member’s personal position concerning such matter.
A dissenting Board member will not, in any way, escalate the dissent after a Board decision has been made
When a Board member wants to revisit a decision, the first conversation must be with the Board.
The Board will not take a position on discussion agenda items the first time such items are placed on the agenda for Board consideration.
Where to begin on this one – obviously, the BOE3 has violated the last line more times than I can count – and it started with their very first meeting last December when they hired Brad Miller, the first time it appeared on the agenda. The most recent violation of the last line was at the October regular meeting, when the BOE3 adopted Mr. McMinimee’s proposal to revise two policies relating to existing district curriculum review committees in order to address Ms. Williams’ “concerns.” The concept of modifying existing committees, and moving them to be board committees was introduced the morning of that October board meeting. This had never appeared on the discussion agenda before.
The BOE3, and in particular Board President Witt, does NOT encourage diversity in opinion – he really only seems to want to hear from people who support his agenda. Case in point – when there was a conversation about Deer Creek STEM program last Winter, Witt made more than 20 members of the community who did NOT prepare a group statement make their case as a group, for a total of ten minutes, because they all supported the STEM program. Two months later, Mr. Witt permitted two or three times as many community members, many of whom were all from the same charter school, to speak individually for hours on end repeating the same message, apparently because they agreed with Witt’s proposal to provide millions of dollars of additional funding to charter schools.
Excellence in governing? With the manner in which Witt treats Ms. Dahlkemper, Ms. Fellman and members of the public, not to mention the clear disdain he and his cronies have for teachers and district staff (who are too biased to ensure a proper APUSH curriculum review), I don’t see any sign of excellence in governance.
GP-04 – The job of the Board is to represent and lead the district by determining and demanding appropriate and excellent organizational performance
See above. There is nothing excellent about an organization that seems to encourage complete non-compliance with governing policies and that treats members of its own Board and the community with such utter disrespected.
GP-05 – The President of the Board ensures the integrity of the Board’s process and normally serves as the Board’s official spokesperson. Accordingly, the President has the following authority and duties:
To lead the Board so that the Board’s performance is consistent with its own rules and policies and those legitimately imposed on it from outside the organization….
To make decisions that fall within the topics covered by Board policies on Governance Process and Board/Staff Linkage, except where the Board specifically delegates portions of this authority to others and to use any reasonable interpretation of the provisions in those policies.
The President has no authority to make decisions about policies created by the Board in the Ends and Executive Limitations policy areas.
The President has no authority as an individual to supervise or direct the superintendent.
To represent the Board to outside parties in announcing only Board-stated positions and in stating decisions and interpretations within the areas delegated to him or her.
To sign all contracts authorized by the Board.
To sign all official Board reports.
To ensure that the entire Board is fully informed about Board business.
There is more here to discuss, but (a) Witt doesn’t appear to understand the concept of integrity, and he most certainly does not ensure that the Board’s performance is consistent with it’s own policies. He has time & again ignored comments from Ms. Dahlkemper & Ms. Fellman that he is not complying with policies. And the many references to “we” made by WNW make it quite clear that they are having conversations outside of the meetings and coming to decisions on Board business, which would be a violation of Colorado’s sunshine law. Finally, at virtually all of the Board meetings, beginning with last Decembers and leading on up through October’s regular meeting, the board majority adds new items or documents for review at the last minute. Sometimes, it is quite clear that WNW have expended some significant amount of effort (drafting documents, spreadsheets, etc.). Yet they surprise Ms. Dahlkemper & Fellman repeatedly. Additionally, the BOE3 have their own attorney who consistently does not provide copies of his work product to 40% of his BOE client, even when he has repeatedly been asked for it.
GP-07 – The Board commits itself and its members to ethical, businesslike and lawful conduct, including proper use of authority and appropriate decorum. The Board, acting in its legislative capacity, shall have the authority and responsibility to interpret and apply these standards of conduct.
Board members should represent the interests of the citizens of the school district. This accountability to the whole district supersedes any conflicting loyalty to other advocacy or interest groups, or citizens of a director district and membership on other boards or staffs. It also supersedes the personal interest of any Board member who is also a parent of a student in the district.
Board members may not attempt to exercise individual authority over the organization except as explicitly set forth in Board policies.
Members’ interaction with the superintendent or with staff must recognize the lack of authority vested in individuals except when explicitly authorized by the Board.
Members will not publicly make or express individual negative judgments regarding other Board members, superintendent or staff performance. Any such judgments of superintendent performance will be made only by the Board, meeting in executive session as appropriate.
Board members shall maintain the confidentiality appropriate to issues of a sensitive nature, especially those discussed in executive session.
Board members testifying before the legislature or meeting formally with legislators will notify Board members, the superintendent and the district lobbyist ahead of that event, if possible.
Any member of the Board of Education may speak to the press, write articles or in other ways communicate with citizens. Board members must identify any personal opinions as such and may not state personal opinions as if they are positions of the Board of Education.
Board members will notify other members when a statement is given to the press, articles are written for publication or other public comment is made. Board members should be very careful to explain one’s personal opinions on non-Board of Education issues to indicate that the member is not speaking on behalf of the Board of Education.
Once a decision has been reached by the Board of Education, members should state the position of the majority of the Board. Any member not voting with the majority of the Board may in addition state their individual position on the Board decision and their reason(s) so that citizens are informed of the dissenting Board member’s position. Board members should not comment on the reasons behind other members’ positions.
This is another policy that is oft-violated by the WNW. Ethical, business-like and lawful are NOT three words I would use to describe the conduct of Witt, Newkirk, and Williams. And their treatment, in particular Witt & Newkirk’s, of Ms. Dahlkemper & Fellman is hardly appropriate. Mr. Witt frequently interrupts Les & Jill, but I don’t think he has ever interrupted Newkirk or Williams. He frequently refuses to answer legitimate questions posed by Les &/or Jill. He is rude beyond belief. In the last 10 months, it has become increasingly clear that WNW’s loyalties lie NOT with our students, but with their financial backers & the political ideologies that provide them with their “playbook.”
Upon information and belief, I think that Witt has been attempting improperly to exercise authority over many members of staff. He started with Dr. Stevenson last December, and ensured that he made her work life so miserable that she had no choice but to leave early. I understand that he has continued to attempt to influence many members of the district staff, including yelling at staff and belittling them.
Witt & Williams made comments to the press asserting that the students protesting the creation of a curriculum review committee were merely being used by the JCEA as pawns. Not only does this belittle the students’ abilities and intelligence, but it also impugns the teachers, as well. When the district was asked to provide evidence backing up such allegations, the response I received was “there are no responsive public records.” Additionally, Witt & Williams NEVER suggested in those press interviews that it was solely THEIR personal opinion (and that they were NOT speaking on behalf of the BOE) that the JCEA was involved. They made those accusations as if they were fact, when there was NO evidence to back up their assertions.
GP-08 – In order to build efficient and effective relationships, Board members commit to communications that build mutual expectations and trust.
Accordingly, we will:
Exercise honesty in all communication.
- Demonstrate respect for each others’ opinions.
- Focus on issues, not personalities.
Build and practice trust.
- Maintain focus on shared goals.
Communicate in a timely manner to avoid surprises.
- Support majority decisions of the Board.
Withhold judgment on issues until fully informed and discussed.
- Seek to understand and be understood.
Criticize privately, praise publicly.
- Use executive sessions appropriately and judiciously.
- Maintain confidentiality.
- Follow the chain of command.
- Openly share personal concerns, issues and agendas.
- Assume a non-defensive posture, taking the initiative to communicate and ask questions for clarification.
- Share information and knowledge which constructively contributes to Board work.
Give direction as the whole, not as individuals.
Make every reasonable effort to protect the integrity and promote the positive image of the district and one another.
- Notify each other of significant events at which we represented the Jefferson County School District.
We will not:
- Embarrass each other or the district.
- Intentionally mislead or misinform each other.
- Maintain hidden agendas.
Many of my previous comments address issues set forth in this policy, too. It is yet another policy that is often violated by WNW. WNW have, from the beginning, violated the public and the remainder of the BOE’s trust. They appear to act in concert in ways that would seemingly require them to have planned such actions prior to the meetings. Especially in light of the recent revelations surrounding Witt’s failure to comply with CORA (and Williams has been doing the same thing for months), it is clear they view open records & open meetings laws as a hindrance to accomplishing their agenda. They frequently, as mentioned before, provide surprises to Les & Jill (and the community) at meetings, and they clearly have already made their judgments, rather than asking for more information (e.g. curriculum review committee – Ms. Williams had no clue what was happening within the district regarding curriculum review before she proposed her Texas-style review committee, which should have been her first step – understand what is going on.
As far as the “We will not” statements – WNW can’t seem to stop doing each of those things, all the time. Their constant comments about how poorly Jeffco is doing, when the numbers that were reviewed at the last meeting clearly show a different story, are truly an embarrassment to Jeffco. Another significant embarrassment to Jeffco is essentially anything Julie Williams says. Her complete lack of aptitude for the English language is embarrassing. Her ignorance on all topics, and apparently lack of interest in educating herself on the same, is an embarrassment.
GP-09 – Public office is a trust created by the confidence the electorate reposes in the integrity of local government officials for the common good and for the benefit of the people. A conflict of interest arises when a public officer is unable to devote complete loyalty and singleness of purpose to the general public interest.
The violations of this policy fall in line with many previous violations. There is no integrity exhibited by WNW. There are clear conflicts between what is best for students and what is best for WNW’s backers.
GP-11 – The people of Jefferson County are represented by the school Board acting as a body. Consequently, the school system is answerable to the Board as a body, not to individual Board members. The Board fails to be accountable to the public if it allows any breach in this principle. Therefore, individual Board members are committed to proper use of their authority and decorum consistent with maintaining the integrity and discipline of Board leadership.
As previously stated, it has come to the attention of many community members that Mr. Witt is NOT using his position on the BOE properly. Rather, he attempts to influence staff and control/direct their activities.
GP-12 – Board committees will have a specific charge defined by the Board, may not speak or act for the Board except when formally given such authority for specific and time-limited purposes, and membership of the committee will be transparent to the public. Expectations and authority will be carefully stated by the Board to assure that committee authority will not conflict with authority delegated to the superintendent.
Board committees cannot exercise authority over the superintendent or staff. Because the superintendent works for the full Board, any direction to the superintendent related to a committee recommendation must come from the full Board. Likewise, the superintendent will not be required to obtain approval of a Board committee before an executive action.
It remains to be seen if the new Content Review Committee will have appropriate specific & time-limited purposes. It certainly appears that the expectations do conflict with the authority delegated to the superintendent.
GP-14 – The Board and its members are committed to faithful compliance with the provisions of the Board’s policies. In the event of a member’s violation of policy, the Board promptly will seek remedy by the following process, as needed:
- First, conversation in a private setting between the member in question and the Board president or other individual member.
- Second, discussion in a work session between the member in question and the full Board.
- Third, public censure of the member in question.
We have seen ZERO evidence that the BOE3 feels even the slightest bit compelled to comply with its own policies – even when they have the opportunity to revise them.
GP-17 – The Board of Education is committed to a community engagement process that assists the board in meeting its ends and the district’s mission to provide a quality education that prepares all children for a successful future. The board believes that engaging our community is essential to preserving a strong system of public education. The board’s policies and decisions should reflect community values, good educational practice and available financial resources.
The board believes that an effective community engagement process can include multiple formats, but it is best accomplished by face-to-face interaction – not just between the board and community members, but among community members as well.
The Board of Education defines community engagement as a long-term, on-going process focusing on policy level issues framed in public terms that:
Involves listening to and talking with the Jefferson County community as well as community members listening to and talking with each other
Informs and deepens the board’s understanding of the community’s perspective, values and priorities
Informs and deepens the community’s understanding of the issues, costs and trade-offs of the board’s decision-making process
Focuses on policy-level issues reflecting the board’s ends and the district’s mission – not day-to-day issues
Uses a variety of strategies to reach the full community
Increases opportunities, both formal and informal, for meaningful dialogue and interaction between board members and the community
Seeks a shared sense of responsibility among the community, board and district for successfully providing a quality education that prepares all children for a successful future
The BOE3 completely ignored the community budget survey responses last winter. They essentially ignored many issues that the community thought was important in the superintendent search. The BOE3, at Witt’s direction, does not provide adequate opportunities for meaningful public comment on issues of great importance to this community, unless such public comment supports their position. This is not the spirit of true community engagement.
BSL-01 – The Board’s sole connection to the operational organization of the school district is the superintendent.
The superintendent is the Board’s only link to the operational achievement and conduct of the school district. All authority and accountability of staff, as far as the Board is concerned, is considered to be the authority and accountability of the superintendent.
The Board will never give instructions or exert undue influence to persons who report directly or indirectly to the superintendent.
The Board will refrain from evaluating any staff other than the superintendent.
The Board will view successful superintendent performance as identical to organizational performance, so that organizational accomplishment of the Board’s Ends policies and compliance with the Board’s executive limitations policies will be viewed as successful superintendent performance.
The violations of this policy have been described above.
BSL-02 – Only decisions of the Board acting as an entity are binding on the superintendent.
Decisions or instructions of individual Board members, officers or committees are not binding on the superintendent.
In the case of Board members or committees requesting information or assistance without Board authorization, the superintendent may refuse such requests that require, in the superintendent’s opinion, a material amount of staff time or resources or that are disruptive or unreasonable.
Same as BSL-01.
BSL-03 – The Board will instruct the superintendent through written policies which prescribe the organizational ends to be achieved and describe organizational situations and actions to be avoided, allowing the superintendent to use any reasonable interpretation of these policies.
The Board will develop policies instructing the superintendent to achieve certain results for certain recipients at a specified cost. These policies will be developed systematically from the broadest, most general level to more defined levels, and will be called Ends policies.
The Board will develop policies that limit the latitude the superintendent may exercise in choosing the organizational means. These policies will be developed systematically from the broadest, most general level to more defined levels, and they will be called Executive Limitations policies.
As long as the superintendent uses any reasonable and ethical interpretation of the Board’s Ends and Executive Limitations policies, the superintendent is authorized, within the powers and authority of the Jefferson County School Board, to make all decisions, take all actions, establish all practices, develop all activities, and generate further policies, rules or procedures as necessary and/or desired.
The Board may change its Ends and Executive Limitations policies, thereby shifting the boundary between Board and superintendent domains. By doing so, the Board changes the latitude of choice given to the superintendent. However, as long as any specified delegation of authority is in place, the Board will respect and support any reasonable interpretation of its policies.
Should the superintendent deem it necessary to, or inadvertently, violate a Board policy, she or he shall promptly inform the Board. Informing is simply to guarantee no violation may be intentionally kept from the Board, not to request approval. Board response, either approving or disapproving, does not exempt the superintendent from subsequent Board judgment of the action.
Same as above.
District Policy AC – The district is committed to the policy that no otherwise qualified person shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to unlawful discrimination under any district program or activity on the basis of ethnicity or race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability. Sexual orientation is a person’s orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status or perception of the individual’s sexual orientation.
Further, the district affirms the rights of all students and staff to be treated with respect and to be protected from intimidation, discrimination, physical harm and/or harassment based upon ethnicity, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability.
Avoiding unlawful discrimination requires the collaborative responsibility of each administrator, supervisor, employee, and student to affirm in actions and deeds the intent and spirit of governing laws and regulations. Toward this end, the district will assist management, staff, and students to implement the district’s good faith intent not to discriminate in the district’s employment and educational opportunities.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) provides that no qualified disabled person shall, on the basis of disability, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to, discrimination under any program or activity which receives or benefits from federal financial assistance. Persons protected under Section 504 and the ADA include students, applicants for employment, employees, parents of students, and members of the community who come within the definitions of “individual with a disability” under those statutes.
Students, public, parents, or staff members who believe they have been the subject of discrimination must report the incident immediately in accordance with district policies GBK, GBK-R, Staff Concerns, Complaints, and Grievances; GBAA, GBAA-R, Harassment of Employees; JI, Student Rights and Responsibilities; JBB, Harassment of Students; or KE, KE-R, Public/Parent Concerns and Complaints.
The actions of WNW during the curriculum review committee fiasco show a CLEAR discrimination against teachers (who may or may not be part of the JCEA) and students. The harassment of the students & teachers should not be tolerated and is not permissible.
BBBA – A candidate for the office of school director shall be a resident of the director district that will be represented, have been a registered elector and resident of the school district for at least 12 months. A person is ineligible to run for school director if he/she has been convicted of committing a sexual offense against a child.
It is important that the candidate be sincerely and honestly interested in serving the whole school district for the best interests of all children. Board members shall be nonpartisan in dealing with school matters. The Board does not wish to subordinate the education of children and youth to any partisan principle, group interest, or personal ambition.
I have covered these violations above, as well. It is clear that the BOE3 has a “hidden” agenda and is focused purely on these interests, and not in the interests of our children. Their behavior has been completely partisan.
BDG – The district realizes that a district the size and complexity of Jefferson County R-1 has a need for competent general counsel to aid the superintendent and the Board regarding all legal matters and to advise them with regard to applicable federal and state laws and regulations, all pending or threatened litigation, and to give legal opinions regarding questions raised by the Board and the superintendent. In addition, the district acknowledges that the school district has a need for legal counsel in special areas of the law.
The district is responsible for selecting and hiring general counsel to represent the district and for authorizing the employment of special counsel as outlined by this policy. The district is also responsible for determining the duties and setting the remuneration of counsel. From time to time, the superintendent or his/her designee shall meet with counsel to review performance, duties, and fees.
In order to facilitate the implementation of this policy, any counsel retained by the district for any purpose shall be given a copy of this policy and shall be expected to comply with its guidelines.
The superintendent shall recommend appointment of both general and special counsel to the district and Board. Upon appointment by the Board, the superintendent or designee shall be responsible for:
- Coordinating activities of attorneys.
- Directing the quarterly preparation of legal litigation reports for the Board.
- Providing for advisory services of counsel at all appropriate meetings of the Board.
- Coordinating attorney consultation among members of the administrative staff.
- Budgeting for attorney legal fees.
- Arranging for payment of justified legal expenses of the district.
- The Board reserves the right to obtain independent legal counsel should occasion arise requiring such legal services.
There is no doubt that Jeffco needs counsel on a variety of issues. The hiring of Brad Miller, however, was highly unusual. First of all, it falls to the superintendent to recommend the appointment of special & general counsel to the District & the Board. Dr. Stevenson did NOT recommend the hiring of Brad Miller. Additionally, the board hired its own counsel for general purposes, not for a specific occasion, which seems quite wasteful and disconcerting.
BE – Except when the Board meets in executive session, all meetings of either a quorum or three or more Board members at which public business may be discussed or formal action taken are open to the public.
- Regular meetings of the Board of Education shall be held at the Education Services Center at 1829 Denver West Drive, Building #27, Golden, Colorado unless directed otherwise by the Board of Education.
- A schedule of regular Board meetings is adopted annually in June for the following school year. The Board generally meets once a month in regular session unless otherwise set by action of the Board.
- Special meetings of the Board may be called by the Board president at any time in consultation with a majority of the members.
The chief of staff for the superintendent and board shall be responsible for giving a written notice of any special meeting to each Board member at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting if mailed and 24 hours in advance if hand-delivered personally or emailed to the member. The notice must contain time, place, and purpose of the meeting.
Any member may waive notice of a special meeting at any time before, during, or after such meeting, and attendance thereat shall be deemed to be a waiver.
No business other than that stated in the notice of the meeting shall be transacted unless all members are present and agree to consider and transact other business.
The Board may schedule joint sessions with the governing bodies of other governmental agencies as special meetings for the purpose of discussing common concerns.
- An executive session may be called at a regular or special meeting for any of the purposes authorized by law, such as to discuss specific legal questions or negotiations.
- No final policy decision or other formal action may occur in executive session.
- All discussions that occur in executive session will be electronically recorded, except as permitted by law for discussions of individual students or discussions that, in the opinion of the Board’s attorney, constitute privileged attorney-client communication. Recordings of executive sessions will be kept for 90 days.
This is essentially the Sunshine Law included into policies. It is quite clear from the comments & behavior of WNW that they make concerted efforts that have been pre-determined. At least in one instance, when the Communications Dept of the District met with SE2, a PR firm, it was confirmed that the BOE majority met with SE2 prior to the district meeting with them. That would be a violation of the sunshine law and this policy.
BEDH – All regular and special meetings of the Board of Education shall be open to the public, but any person who disturbs good order may be required to leave. Because the Board desires to hear the viewpoints of citizens throughout the district, and also needs to conduct its business in an orderly and efficient manner, it shall schedule one or more periods during regular meetings for brief comments from the public.
Citizens wishing to make formal presentation before the Board must make arrangements in advance with the superintendent to schedule such presentation on the agenda.
At regular meetings, citizens can address the Board on any topic related to the operation of the schools. Only those topics which are on that particular agenda may be addressed at special meetings. Complaints involving the reputation of any person connected with the district will not be heard by the Board while sitting in public session.
The president of the Board is responsible for recognizing all speakers, who shall properly identify themselves with name, address, city or as an employee, for maintaining proper order, and for adherence to time limits.
Members of the public will not be recognized by the president as the Board conducts its official business except when the Board schedules an interim public discussion period on a particular item. The Board shall listen to the public but, at the same time, expects the public to listen and speak only when properly recognized.
Eligibility to Address the Board
The following persons are eligible to address the Board:
- Residents of the district
- Parents of students enrolled in district schools
- Members of the staff
- Individuals who have been requested by the superintendent or Board to present a given subject
- Nonresidents of the district who have previously requested and received the permission of the superintendent or Board
Hearing of Persons
- Anyone who would like to address the Board must sign the public comment roster (name, address, and topic).
- Person(s) addressing the Board on an item on the agenda will be called on during the public comment part one portion of the agenda or when that particular item is discussed. Persons addressing the Board on an item(s) not on the agenda will be given the opportunity to do so under part two of the public comment portion of the agenda.
- The Board president will request that a large number of citizens who sign up as a group to speak on a single topic select speakers and comment for no more than ten (10) minutes. An individual speaker on a single topic will be given three (3) minutes to speak. If more than 20 individuals sign up to speak, individual speakers will be given two (2) minutes to speak and groups will be given five (5) minutes to speak. If more that 30 individuals sign up to speak, individual speakers will be given one (1) minute to address the Board.
- Undue interruption or other interference with the orderly conduct of the Board business cannot be allowed. Any person who disturbs good order may be required to leave.
- Defamatory or abusive remarks are always out of order. The presiding officer may terminate the speaker’s privilege of address if, after being called to order, the speaker persists in improper conduct or remarks.
- Any personal approval or disapproval of action taken by the Board during the meeting may be indicated during the public comment period of a regular Board meeting, but it is requested that there be no applause or dissent during the meeting.
All charges, complaints, or challenges are to be presented to the superintendent or Board in writing, signed by the complainant. All charges, if presented to the Board directly, are to be referred to the superintendent for investigation and report.
Challenges of instructional materials used in the district will be handled in accordance with district policy KEC, Public Concerns/Complaints About Instructional Materials.
To place an item on the agenda, written material must be filed with the superintendent. The written material should include the name of the person or persons making the request and the name of the organization or group represented, if any. Also contained in the request will be a statement of action requested by the Board and pertinent background information leading to the request.
The superintendent, upon receipt of a properly executed request, may set a date for inclusion of the requested item on the Board agenda or may respond to the issue in another manner.
If the item is considered, the superintendent will notify the individual or group of the time and place of the meeting at which the item will be considered.
Public comment is an area, as described above, where Witt often takes liberties. Notice the underlined segment – that is where our request should be made for ethics training – we can outline the problems (as described above, the many policy violations), and provide the letters/postcards as evidence in support of training; we can make an agenda item request to McMinimee with all of this data & make a public comment at the November meeting to the same effect.
CC – The underlying premises of the district’s organizational structure is to direct and control activities in such a way as to enhance the attainment of the district’s educational goals and objectives.
The Board’s legal authority shall be transmitted through the superintendent along specific paths from person to person as shown on the district organizational chart.
Already described above.
DIF – The Jefferson County School District (the district) Board of Education expects all Board members, district employees, volunteers, consultants, vendors, contractors and other parties that maintain a relationship with the district to act with integrity, due diligence and in accordance with law in their duties involving the district’s resources. The Board of Education is entrusted with public funds and no one connected with the district shall do anything to erode that trust. . . . Other dishonest or fraudulent acts involving district monies or resources.
While generally this conflict of interest policy deals with financial interests, this statement regarding integrity, due diligence and lawfulness is quite relevant. WNW do not act with integrity, as has been described above. And it appears that they frequently do NOT perform their due diligence. Mr. Witt was unaware that one of the charter schools to whom the district granted a loan of several hundred thousand dollars intended to offer free FDK with that money, despite the fact that this information was disclosed multiple times in the charter’s loan application documents. Ms. Williams didn’t even READ the AP US History framework before calling it into question, rather she relied on religious and political propaganda that was shown repeatedly to be inaccurate. This is a common occurrence – WNW rely on biased sources for their information and refuse to ask for or believe non-biased information.
Both Witt & Williams’ refusals to comply with CORA requests, and failure to provide public records subject to the same, really are dishonest acts with respect to district resources, and as such, amount to fraud.
GBAA – Jefferson County Public Schools is committed to providing a working and learning environment that is free from harassment, and it is the policy of this district that harassment in any form will not be tolerated. Management and supervisory personnel, at all levels, are responsible for taking reasonable and necessary action to prevent harassment. All members of the district community, employees, and students are required to promptly report conduct that could be in violation of this policy.
The school district does not tolerate harassment by employees, supervisors, or non-employees based on sex (with or without sexual conduct), race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or protected activity (opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in the statutory complaint process). Sexual orientation is a person’s orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status or perception of the individual’s sexual orientation. . . .
Harassment is defined as unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or protected activity, that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating hostile or offensive work environment.
I think that every employee of the district should file a harassment claim based on the comments of Witt & Williams in connection with the curriculum review committee. Their repeated efforts to “blame” the student walk-outs on the JCEA, and their use of students as “pawns” is, without a doubt, harassment.
GBC – Jefferson County Public Schools endeavors to provide a competitive total compensation opportunity for all employees. Employees will earn compensation based on performance, skills, and education. Total compensation will be linked to achieving the district´s strategic plan. Variable or alternative compensation will be a key element of cash compensation for employees on the administrative and professional/technical pay scale.
Total Compensation Regulations
The district´s total compensation plan will:
Attract and retain a team of high performing educators and service providers.
Compensate employees competitively compared to relevant markets.
Link performance objectives to department improvement and strategic plans.
Encourage excellence in performance.
Strive for internal fairness and equity.
Be based on the district´s ability to pay.
Comply with all regulatory requirements and negotiated agreements. . . .
Internal equity and fairness will be enhanced through stakeholder participation in team based job evaluation or pay grade design teams.
The district´s total compensation opportunity will be contingent on its ability to pay or the availability of funds for compensation programs.
Plan designs will not have disparate impact on the organization, will comply with all federal and state wage and hour regulations, and will be subject to agreement with any appropriate bargaining groups.
The District’s new compensation scheme for teachers does NOT recognize a teacher’s education. That was recognized in the steps & levels comp system that was agreed to in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, that the BOE3 are completely ignoring with their new plan. Thus, the new scheme does NOT comply with the negotiated agreement. In addition, the BOE3 completely ignored the JCEA and teachers in its design of the new scheme, further violating this policy.
HA – The Board may engage in contractual relationships with appropriate employee groups as well as with individual professional staff members.
The term “negotiations” generally refers to any discussion between two or more parties for the purpose of settling some matter or otherwise reaching agreement. For the purpose of this policy, however, “negotiations” is defined as bilateral bargaining, i.e., formal discussions between two parties for reaching agreement. Such negotiations are one legitimate way for staff members, among other members of the educational community, to be involved in the decision-making processes that affect them.
The Board will negotiate in good faith on appropriate concerns. It will deal with staff negotiating units openly and fairly, and will sincerely endeavor to reach agreement on items being negotiated, that are proper for negotiation. Nothing in negotiations shall abridge the Board’s legal responsibilities nor will any staff member’s rights and privileges under state statutes be impaired.
It is the intent of the Board to utilize negotiations procedures which achieve the following goals:
To guarantee employees that they will receive a thorough study of their proposals as well as full considerations in reaching decisions related thereto.
To provide an orderly means for resolving disputes.
To meet all legal requirements of the state statutes.
The way the BOE3 handled “negotiations” with JCEA is embarrassing. If this were a private company negotiating with any other union, they would have violated the Fair Labor Standards Act. The BOE3 did NOT negotiate in good faith, and they clearly didn’t thoroughly study possible solutions to the issues.
HH – It is the policy of the Board to conduct negotiations with non-administrative classified and non-administrative licensed employees.
Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join or assist employee organizations and to meet and confer through representatives of their own choosing in order to present recommendations to the Board. Employees also shall have the right to refrain from any or all such activities.
Following a certification election, it is the Board’s policy to exclusively recognize organizations which represent the majority of employees in certain groups or non-administrative units of employees of this district and to be represented in negotiating meetings by a team representing the Board. Regulations adopted by the Board will continue to provide opportunities for the employees in each group or unit to request a determination of which organization represents the majority of the employees in the respective groups or units of employees.
The granting of these rights to employees shall in no way be construed to diminish or impair the rights, powers, and discretion of the Board and administration vested in them under the laws of Colorado. Except as specifically provided in policy, the rights, powers, and duties of the administration to manage and administer the affairs of the district shall remain unaltered.
Witt, Newkirk, and Williams have made their view of JCEA clear, and the future of JCEA in Jeffco is equally clear. The WNW is not following their policies by essentially ignoring the JCEA.
JBC – The Board of Education recognizes the negative impact that bullying has on student health, welfare, and safety and on the learning environment at school. Bullying is prohibited on all district property, at district or school-sanctioned activities or events, when students are being transported in vehicles dispatched by the district or one of its schools, and off school property when such conduct has a nexus to school or any district curricular or non-curricular activity or event.
“Bullying” means any written or verbal expression, or physical or electronic act or gesture, or a pattern thereof, that is intended to coerce, intimidate, or cause any physical, mental or emotional harm to any student. Bullying is prohibited against any student for any reason, including but not limited to any such behavior that is directed toward a student on the basis of his or her academic performance; or against whom federal and state laws prohibit discrimination. . . .
All administrators, teachers, classified staff, and students share the responsibility to ensure that bullying does not occur at any district school, on any district property, at any district or school-sanctioned activities or events, when students are being transported in any vehicle dispatched by the district or one of its schools, or off school property when such conduct has a nexus to school or any district curricular or non-curricular activity or event. Toward that end:
All students who believe they have been victims of bullying in any such circumstance shall immediately report it to an administrator or teacher at their school.
All students who witness student bullying in any such circumstance shall immediately report it to an administrator or teacher at their school.
All administrators and teachers who have any incident of bullying reported to them shall promptly forward the report(s) to the principal or principal’s designee for appropriate action.
All administrators, teachers, and classified staff who witness student bullying in any such circumstance shall immediately take appropriate action to stop the bullying, as prescribed by the district and building principal, and shall promptly report the bullying to the principal or principal’s designee for appropriate action.
Each building principal or principal’s designee shall ensure that all reports involving student bullying in any such circumstance are promptly and thoroughly investigated, and that appropriate action is taken.
Any person who takes retaliatory action against a student who reports in good faith an incident of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary consequences.
In determining the appropriate action to be taken in response to incidents of student bullying, the building principal or principal’s designee shall consider existing policies and regulations that address the type of conduct that may be involved in bullying. Such policies and regulations include, but are not limited to, JB, JBB, JBB-R, JI, JICC, JICC-R, JICI, JK, JK-R, JKD/JKE-1, JKD/JKE-R-1 & JKDA/JKEA.
Discipline for student bullying and for retaliation for reporting bullying may include suspension, expulsion, and/or classroom suspension. In addition, the building principal shall consider other actions which may be appropriate in response to student bullying and retaliation, including, but not limited to:
. . .Holding training and inservices to assist building staff in being alert to student bullying, taking appropriate action when bullying occurs, and helping to engender an atmosphere where bullying is not tolerated at school or school-related activities.
The conduct of the BOE3 in relation to the students who engaged in peaceful protests & student walk-outs in connection with Williams’ curriculum review committee proposal amounted to bullying. Dan McMinimee should require training for Witt, Newkirk, and Williams to ensure that they cease all such behavior immediately.
JI – Student Rights: There is an urgent and growing need for school administrators to provide strong leadership in the area of human rights. Human rights accrue to all people simply because they are human. One’s humanness cannot be denied because of temporary status as a student; nor should students be denied the opportunity to learn about, and practice, human rights behavior in the school setting.
Of equal importance is the right of school authorities, consistent with fundamental constitutional safeguards, to prescribe and control conduct in the schools. The difference between the freedoms expected by the students and the necessary restrictions of their actions in the rules set down by the schools to maintain good order can be bridged by appropriate conduct on the part of both.
Education – Every student has the right to an education relevant to needs and ability — as provided by state law.
Freedom of Expression and Assembly – Students have the right to assemble and express themselves by speaking, writing, distributing, wearing or displaying symbols of ethnic, cultural, or political values such as buttons, badges, emblems, and armbands; or through any mode of dress or grooming style; or through any other medium or form of expression, except that the principal, or designee, may regulate expression, provided the regulation is based on legitimate educational concerns, there is a factual basis for believing a specific form of expression by a specific student is causing or will cause substantial disruption of school activities, or the expression constitutes a health or safety hazard. Students shall also have the right to refrain from expressing themselves in these student originated activities.
WNW+McMinimee (through Terry Elliott) made clear threats to students who participated in the student walk-outs. This is a clear violation of this policy.
KDA – All communications addressed to the Board or its officers received in the Board office shall be placed on the Board meeting agenda as correspondence to the Board. Such correspondence shall be listed on the agenda with the name and subject of each letter. Copies of the correspondence shall be placed on the table at the back of the Board room at each regular meeting so that it may be reviewed by interested persons. Copies of Board correspondence shall be made available to members of the media.
The secretary of the Board shall respond to all Board correspondence with the assistance of the superintendent or designee. Information that has been researched by the administrative staff in response to Board correspondence shall be sent to all Board members.
Correspondence directed to the superintendent shall be handled by the superintendent unless the writer has requested that it be brought to the attention of the Board.
Anonymous letters addressed to the Board or officers of the Board shall not be introduced to the Board agenda.
A member of the community noted that only letters dated within the first week of September were included in the October regular meeting correspondence – and there were many, many additional letters that were not made public. Most importantly, Mr. Newkirk does not respond to all correspondence. And when he does respond, he is either disrespectful, delinquent or both.
KDB – The Board is a public servant, and its meetings and records shall be matters of public information, subject to such restrictions as are set by federal law or regulation, by state statute or by pertinent court rulings. . . .
The district may charge reasonable fees for furnishing copies of such public records.
My experience is that the district, when public records related to the BOE3 are involved, requests payment of fees that are entirely Unreasonable with respect to the specific requests involved.
And we demand that Dan McMinimee be publicly censured for his failure to comply with
EL-02 – With parents and community, the superintendent shall not fail to establish a culture that builds on mutual respect, involvement and support.
Accordingly, the superintendent may not:
. . .Fail to provide systems for parents and community members to receive timely, cost effective, targeted or individualized communication as appropriate, with the district.
Fail to ensure timely, relevant, and appropriate communication by teachers and schools through the use of district communication tools (i.e., Infinite Campus, voice mail and e-mail).
Dan McMinimee’s communications with the parents was incomplete at best and most definitely misleading. His “failure” to speculate on the basis for the sick-outs was dishonest.
EL-03 – With respect to treatment of paid and volunteer staff, the superintendent shall not cause or allow conditions, procedures, actions or decisions which are disrespectful, disruptive, undignified.
Accordingly, pertaining to paid staff, the superintendent may not:. . .
9. Fail to provide opportunities for staff to give input into discussions that impact them.
Dan McMinimee’s failure to take control of the situation with the press during the curriculum review committee fiasco, and the unfounded allegations by Witt & Williams most assuredly permitted actions/conditions that were disrespectful, disruptive & undignified to exist. Additionally, his kowtowing to Witt on the pay scheme did NOT provide staff the opportunity to have input into discussions that impacted them.
EL-04 – The Board of Education expects Jeffco Public Schools to follow research based best practices in compensation for licensed staff. The Board of Education recognizes that compensation is a strategy for organizational improvement, not a goal in itself.
The Board of Education holds these values for compensation of licensed employees:
- To attract and retain effective licensed employees that get results for students
- To provide competitive compensation in the marketplace
- To deliver a system that is fair and accessible
- To be transparent and understandable
- To be reliable, stable, and include career options
- Under the current compensation system the superintendent shall not:
- Change his or her own compensation and benefits.
- Promise or imply permanent or guaranteed employment.
- Enter into agreements with employee groups that commit revenues for a period of time in excess of one year without provision for reopening the portion of the agreement relating to salary and benefits.
- Create obligations over a longer term than revenues can be safely projected, in no event longer than one year.
- Fail to develop and implement salary schedules and pay plans for licensed/certificated personnel that:
- Compensate the district’s regular teaching personnel commensurate with at least the teacher’s education and prior experience. Condition salary increments upon evidence of the continued professional growth of the teacher. Recognize that, within the framework of state statutes, employees who do not comply with the requirements of the district and state may not be granted salary increases or they may not be retained on the staff. And working collaboratively with employee associations to move away from steps and levels.
- Assure finances are available to provide the appropriate level of increase in compensation at the time of administrator promotion.
- Establish or change pension/retirement benefits levels.
- Accept or allow employees of the district to accept compensation for outside activities while on Jefferson County School District (JCSD) time.
- Fail to require that any remuneration/honorariums received by employees for services provided, with superintendent approval, on JCSD time, be turned over to the district.
- Fail to ensure timely monitoring and discussion of negotiations progress for each employee group prior to settlement.
When considering compensation redesign, the superintendent shall not fail to:
Collaborate with employees in the development of any major changes in the compensation system.
Align major changes with the goal of attracting and retaining the best employees in a competitive market.
Motivate employees to develop skills, competencies, and knowledge related to Jeffco’s organizational needs.
Align changes in the compensation system with increased student achievement.
The changes to the compensation scheme were unwise. Witt is relying on a measure that an independent fact-finder determined was not appropriate for that purpose. The teachers had no collaboration – WNW steamrolled their plans & “ethics” for compensation over the teachers. Rather than acknowledging a teacher’s credentials, they focus entirely on a flawed evaluation tool, without input from the teachers. A huge violation of this policy.