Jeffco School Board: Last Two Years in Pictures

A quick chronological summary of the events of the past two years, in pictures and videos, starting with the 2013 election:



The Koch Brothers played a major role in financing a victory for WNW in 2013 and are spending incredible amounts to keep them in office in 2015. They don’t live here, and their financing wildly dwarfs funding from outside sources used to support other candidates or the recall.


Board of Education 12-12-13

This is video from the December 12th, 2013 board of education meeting and study session. In it, the board discusses hiring an attorney solely to represent the board.

WNW hire Colorado Springs attorney Brad Miller, in a surprise vote and having discussed it secretly beforehand in violation of Sunshine Laws. Miller represents districts around the state where there’s been Tea Party take over. To this day, only three of our elected board members know what he does.


Brad miller invoice

Virtually everything Miller does is redacted, despite WNW’s campaign of transparency. “Brad Legal Services” is not transparent.


Boots 2

After Ken Witt famously says “I don’t know anything about Dougco,” WNW hire an expensive consulting firm to conduct a “national” Superintendent search. WNW, going against the advice of the search firm, only identify one “finalist,” that WNW already knew, from Douglas County. This “finalist,” Dan McMinimee, was clearly not the most qualified applicant in the pool, but had a “proven” history of union busting, WNW’s main answer to education improvement. Parents and teachers join forces to mock this relationship in public protests.



The new Superintendent tries to be stealthy most of the time but his political intentions are clear.



The Tea Party gathering McMinimee and Newkirk speak at is co-sponsored by the “American Freedom Party,” a self-affirmed White Supremacist party. Newkirk angrily dismisses the co-sponsorship as a “typo” without ever giving any realistic explanation of how those words somehow appear as the result of a mere “typo.”



In the important day-to-day running of the district, McMinimee only offers token opposition to Witt and company, seemingly there only to play the “good cop” and soothe matters when citizens and teachers call foul on WNW’s agenda.



Parents and teachers are locked out of school board meetings.



Julie Williams proposes the censorship of U.S. History from which there can be no complete backpedaling.



Thousands of knowledgeable students react to Williams’ request to eliminate civil disobedience from A.P. U.S. History by walking out of classes. Newkirk and Witt call the students of the district “ignorant” “pawns.”



silent-1Photo by Nicholas Garcia, Chalkbeat Colorado, November 6, 2014 9:54 pm -

Students begin attending board meetings, organize their efforts, and create “Jeffco Students for Change,” — but their input is summarily and repeatedly dismissed by WNW.



Julie Williams posts an officially listed hate group’s admonition and recommendation for civil disobedience: to keep kids home from the “Day of Silence” meant to highlight LGBTQ students’ challenges. She claims she didn’t read it before posting it.


Edward James Olmos, the actor who protrayed L.A. Math teacher Jaime Escalante in "Stand And Deliver".

Edward James Olmos, the actor who protrayed L.A. Math teacher Jaime Escalante in “Stand And Deliver”.


People who know education all around the country take notice. Despite dreamy, idealistic “Stand and Deliver” references by WNW, the lead actor from that famous movie sends this picture to Jeffco.


fiscal conservativesAs time wears on, the more and more it becomes clear that “fiscally conservative” is only a campaigning tagline for WNW. 



 Julie Williams’ brother-in-law, Tim Neville, is among those illegally using the Jeffco Public Schools logo in campaign ads. The ads also used doctored images of the student walk-outs. These violations are so egregious that even McMinimee and Miller have to put out a “Cease and Desist” memo.

Support Jeffco Kids | Facebook

One more small clip. What is the rush? Why not thoughtful discussion? Why not follow policy? They already have the votes to do anything they want to do, why do they do this?

Against Board Policy, Ken Witt yet again springs a surprise vote about a crucial matter with late-supplied information.


Witt ethics

In a political stunt rivaling the strangest, Ken Witt files an ethics complaint against himself surrounding his closed door meetings: a) in a closed-door press conference in which many were kicked out; b) to a governing body that has no jurisdiction over the case; c) this governing body won’t meet until after the election (even if it did have jurisdiction); and d) Witt’s complaint asks the wrong question about the actual law-breaking activity.



Julie Williams’ long-time friend, Nate Marshall, makes multiple recommendations on her Facebook page that teachers’ union members and pro-recall supporters be “executed” “swiftly” by a conservative tribunal. And their kids should be expelled, post-executions. Williams blocks people complaining about these messages long before she removes Marshall as a friend after public uproar. He continues to call teachers “vile” “ISIS-loving” “filth.” Many pro-recall supporters also report having their decorated cars damaged.



See that “Americans for Prosperity” in he upper right corner? That’s the Koch Brothers. People who don’t live here. Never mind that a pay for performance plan was already being worked out when WNW got elected in 2013. The Koch Brothers wouldn’t know that.


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Kim Johnson and Tori Merritts try to run a stealth campaign by not associating with WNW, but the trails are everywhere. Johnson in particular claims to be “a little bit of a bridge builder,” and “not selected by any group,” which is reminiscent of Julie Williams’ campaign promise “to always have an open door.” It’s discovered that Johnson was selected after a rigorous process by a group of WNW’s staunchest “no compromise” allies.



Ron Mitchell, Ali Lasell, Susan Harmon, Brad Miller, and Amanda Stevens, a truly independent “Clean Slate,” join forces to reclaim Jeffco Schools.

Need more information? Check out our Recall 101 page. Thanks to our partners at Jeffco Transparency, Jeffco Data View, and Support Jeffco Kids for originally procuring some of these images and videos.

Keep fighting, Jeffco!



Last week, we put forth a poll asking you to select the Top 10 most disturbing stories out of the 30 that we selected from the current Jeffco School Board majority’s tenure.

We are amidst counting down the Top 10, as voted on by more than 400 people. Today is Story #6:

What Happened: Julie Williams is well-known for posting hyper-inflammatory links on her Facebook feed (example: a speaker suggesting that parents pull their kids out of public schools because teachers are just ‘glorified babysitters’ and that the only reason parents haven’t done it sooner is because they’ve become lazy and dependent) and for not reading things before she develops a strong public opinion about their contents (example: the AP U.S. History framework).


This regular combination of Williams’ habits came together in an explosive way this spring when she published a link on her Facebook page to a screed that encouraged parents to keep their kids home from school and “away from perverse indoctrination” on April 17, which had been deemed a “Day of Silence” designed to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment. SaveCalifornia is on the official list of hate groups kept by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Williams claimed she didn’t read the SaveCalifornia newsletter before posting it, and later apologized and deleted it from her Facebook page.

By the way, notice the commenters and their comments in the above image.

Why It Matters: Time and again, Williams wrote and said during her 2013 campaign that her “door would always be open to all voices” in Jefferson County. There didn’t need to be any more evidence that she was just stating mindless political platitudes that someone coached her to say, but this kind of action made it clear that if she ever had such an intent, she didn’t understand what it really meant.

Certainly, it was better that she deleted and apologized than not having done so, but the public had by then grown so weary of both her carelessness and her creation of a hostile environment for so many in the district she is charged with helping lead.

Students struggling with sexual orientation have a far higher suicide and suicide attempt rate than average, and experience bullying, depression, and anxiety at significantly increased rates too. If Williams isn’t entirely personally comfortable with sexual orientation questions, the least she could do as a leader of an enormous organization would be to keep quiet about it.

Williams often does not seem to treat her school board behavior any differently than a private Tea Party meeting. She seems to think that her mandate from the voters is so broad that the totally unfiltered Julie Williams is what’s best for the county. While we are increasingly enamored of politicians who “speak their mind,” Williams represents a total lack of discretion when her duty to not be careless is doubled by the fact that the primary people she serves are kids. Even after two years, it’s obvious that she is simply woefully unprepared to be a public official, much less one “leading” an enormous number of youth coming from a variety of backgrounds.



4.20.15 Notes from the 4/16/15 BOE retreat

Thursday’s board retreat was at the request of Julie Williams, who wanted to talk about innovation in education before deciding what kind of new buildings to build (should they ever agree to fund new facilities for the new housing developments in the west Lakewood and northwest Arvada areas). The first part of the meeting was about innovations in Jeffco, and the second part was devoted to outside experts.

The school presentations were fairly interesting. Lumberg Elementary talked about innovating with technology, looking mostly at their 1:1 iPad initiative. Pennington Elementary talked about their extended time initiative and how it has allowed them to provide a lot of opportunities that their students might not otherwise receive, such as instrumental music for every fifth and sixth grader, and access to wraparound services, and the opportunity to participate in sports and similar activities.

Then they switched gears to talk about innovation in middle schools. Falcon Bluffs Middle School explained its Sparks PE program, in which students participate in 20 minutes of high-impact activity to improve focus and concentration on crucial subjects. Bell and Deer Creek Middle Schools talked about their STEM programs and the benefits it has had for students at both schools.

All of the presentations were quite interesting, and we encourage you to take the time to look at what’s going on in Jeffco.

Next up were guests panelists, including:

Tony Lewis, executive director, Donnell-Kay Foundation
Scott Fast, parent, Columbine High School, retired executive director, Accenture Foundation
Michael Cushman, senior fellow, DaVinci Institute
John Evans, Ph.D., J.D., executive director, School Leaders for Colorado
Tammy Thorn, master teacher, School Leaders for Colorado

This was an interesting mix of presentations. Cushman, who represented the futurist think tank the DaVinci Institute didn’t have much to say about new school facilities other than he thought spaces should be movable and that there should be lots of 3D printers so students could create stuff and just throw it away if it doesn’t work. The accompanying presentation also included predictions, some of which were more far-fetched than others (like the idea that the average person would live in a printed house by 2030). He offered few concrete solutions, however.

Scott Fast focused on career readiness and the importance of using a more accurate career-readiness measurement, like ACT WorkKeys, to measure outcomes for students who will seek employment immediately after high school. His ideas included creating career pathways for those students to seek certification and focusing on essential sills like collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, professionalism and self-direction.

The third presentation was by the School Leaders for Colorado group. It was confusing, at best. They talked at length about alternative licensure and career pathways for those in the military seeking to become teachers—all of which makes since until one remembers that they started talking about providing alternative paths to principal licensure and subsequent careers.

There were a few hints about the kinds of training that would prepare a principal (like shadowing another principal) but the lion’s share of the presentation was spent talking about Troops to Teachers (a Department of Defense program) or waxing eloquent about how some of these veterans have two masters degrees and are experts in their field who work with sophisticated technology, so they should be teachers now because more teachers should be content experts. Perhaps no one told them that WNW do not want to pay for one master’s degree, much less two?

Of note: School Leaders for Colorado had absolutely no data to show the impact of their former military principals on student achievement. Why do we mention this? Because Ken Witt loves to ask district presenters why there isn’t a slide linking [presentation topic] to student achievement. Did Witt ask this group to show that student achievement had improved by virtue of teachers and soon-to-be-principals going through this program? Nope. (But he did ask Lumberg, despite the fact that they had multiple slides showing the effect the iPad initiative had had on student achievement.)

Last was Tony Lewis’ presentation from the Donnell-Kay Foundation, a school reform organization. Lewis is also a charter school representative. He didn’t bother with PowerPoint, but said schools need to teach both “resume virtues and eulogy virtues” (see David Brooks’ “Moral Bucket List” column in the New York Times about both kinds of virtues), suggested the board consider course choice (i.e., a student could take courses at other schools. For example, if no AP course was offered at the student’s school, they could take the AP course at a school that did offer it).

Lewis pointed the board to several concrete examples to consider for buildings, including the e3 Civic High School in San Diego, an online high school offered through the Los Angeles Library, and Architects of Achievement. He also suggested that the board consider putting out an RFP for new school models, that they engaged with students who have dropped or opted out to see what models would make sense for them, and create a faculty space that could incubate new schools, regardless of the type of school.

He also cautioned, however, that some standards need to be met to successfully innovate. For example:

  • People need to know they can fail; innovation won’t happen if people might be subject to repercussions
  • Problems need to be identified and defined before you can solve it. Too often, people jump to a solution but have never defined the problem.
  • There needs to be fidelity to the model in any innovation
  • Implementation trumps concept

When Williams asked about putting out an RFP for school models, Lewis told her that first they need to talk to the community — specifically small subsets and neighborhoods. Only after finding out the interests and needs of that community should an RFP be issued. For example, if it became clear an area was interested in a Montessori school, the board might consider issuing an RFP for Montessori schools.

It’s unclear where WNW intend to go from here. Williams inquired about printing a new school building with a 3D printer. Cushman said not many places were doing it now, but he expected the process to be cheaper and yet still durable when it becomes widespread.


And in case you missed it: Friday was the national Day of Silence, a protest that aims to raise awareness about LGBT bullying. Board member Julie Williams, however, posted a link on her Facebook page to a LBGT hate group that encouraged parents to keep their students home. She has since apologized, claiming that she didn’t read the post. Chalkbeat was first on the scene with this article, and 9 News was one of many other organizations that have reported on the story since.

Feeling as disturbed as we are? Take action: write the board, write letters to the editor, and speak up at public comment. Have other ideas? We’d love to hear them.

Whatever you do, keep fighting, JeffCo!