Jeffco Schools Superintendent Threatens Teachers Over Latest Protest

Dan McMinimee

Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee has turned to the “threaten teachers” section of his right-wing handbook.

UPDATE: We'll have more on this before tomorrow's Gubernatorial debate at the Denver Post auditorium, but in the meantime, here's an interesting take from Westword: (we had a feeling this would happen):

Meanwhile, the proposed history curriculum changes could become an issue in the upcoming gubernatorial race between Democrat office-holder John Hickenlooper and Republican challenger Bob Beauprez. At a debate Friday, the Durango Herald reports that Beauprez backed board members: "An elected school board not only has the right to speak up about curriculum and what they think are the wisest choices…but they have an obligation to do that," he said. Hickenlooper, for his part, was more critical, arguing that "you want your kids to learn about Dr. Martin Luther King, but you also want them to learn about the Boston Tea Party."


Classes were cancelled today at Golden and Jefferson High Schools in Jefferson County when a majority of teachers called in sick as part of an ongoing protest against heavy-handed tactics from the right-wing majority school board. As Jesse Paul of the Denver Post reports, Jeffco Superintendent Dan McMinimee is talking tough about cracking down on teacher protests…which is not going to go over well:

Teachers who missed school will have to show proof of illness, he said, adding that personal days need 24-hours notice.

"We are going to have our building principals work with each teacher involved in this," he said.

"We will probably dock them a day's pay," McMinimee said of teachers who didn't follow the guidelines of the collective bargaining agreement. "I think it's time for this to end. Let's put an end to this." [Pols emphasis]

That tone-deaf statement from McMinimee is fairly typical of the response we have seen from the conservative members of the Jeffco School Board — Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk have been oddly surprised that students, parents, and teachers are not excited about the idea of non-educators making massive curriculum changes. Even though Jefferson and Golden High Schools were closed today, that didn't stop students from another day of protests. McMinimee and the school board might want to pay closer attention to what the students are saying:

Angelica Dole, a sophomore at Jefferson High School, said the students were 100 percent behind their teachers.

"This is our own time. This was all students. No teachers are here, look around," Dole said.

At the same time that administrators are talking tough, the students are taking matters into their own hands, which further complicates any response. McMinimee and the school board have made passing references in the last week essentially laying the blame for protests with the JCEA (the Jeffco teachers' union), and they are getting more aggressive with those accusations and in trying to crack the whip with teachers. But the students can make things much, much more problematic:

The recent walk and sick-outs have raised alarm as the Oct. 1 state county day approaches, which determines district funding by enrolled and present students.

State officials said Monday that absences should not affect the district's funding — which is $7,021 per student — because of extensions and rules in the count which allow for students present five days before and five days after Oct. 1 to be included in the funding determination.

Ken Witt

School Board President Ken Witt. He’s “an adult.”

We're now entering the third week of high-profile protests in response to asinine actions from the right-wing Jeffco School Board. In that time, we've learned one thing above all others: Julie Williams and the rest of the conservative board appear to be completely clueless as to how to deal with this situation…which they, of course, created with their own actions. Check out this quote from Board President Ken Witt:

"I'm very disappointed that some of our instructors have chose not to turn up for work today. It is not appropriate for adult matters to impact the education of our students." [Pols emphasis]

Yes, really. That's Ken Witt saying it is not appropriate for "adult matters" to impact the education of our students. When you say, "adult matters," Ken, do you include when "adults" make inappropriate school curriculum plans based on partisan political positioning? Or does this only apply to "other" adults?

33 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Miss Jane says:

    "have chose"   What interesting grammar he uses.

  2. Progressicat says:

    I wish him good luck disciplining them.  If their contract doesn't specifically require a doctor's note for all sick time (or that's something the district hasn't consistently enforced), then we'll let the lawsuits commence.  "I didn't know I needed a note.  I never have before."  "I felt nauseated and lay down to rest it off.  When I woke up in the evening I felt better."  Let alone fairness– are you doing this for all employees?

    I understand that a sick-out is frustrating. and don't necessarily agree with using them (I honestly prefer declared labor actions), but this whole notion of docking folks a day's pay is just going to escalate things.

  3. DawnPatrol says:

    The Koch Bros, ALEC and the GOTP want a fight? Let's damned well give them one — hopefully to the political demise. Theirs.


    Let the war commence.

  4. DawnPatrol says:

    Also, these high-school students (and their parents) are getting a very ugly, up-close-and-personal look at precisely how extreme right wingers and TeaNutz approach everything in life, not just how they go about perverting high-school curricula to support their warped agenda..

    I doubt many of these sharp young adults will go on to be GOTPers as they begin voting.

  5. Early Worm says:

    Udall needs to figure out a way to hitch his wagon to this cause.  Does he have time to visit one of these student protests to show his support? His message: this the type of divisive, partisan, government sponsored mind control you will get if you elect Gardner.  The school board majority were stealth candidates; they campaigned on transparency, no new taxes, and school choice. What we got is secrecy, upheaval, and policies driven by national partisan interests. Likewise, Gardner is a stealth candidate, claiming he is different that "establishment politicians."  But he is just as partisan, divisive and crazy as this school board.

    • DawnPatrol says:

      A very interesting point and suggestion. It would be a natural fit for Senator Udall, without having to lie, obfuscate, and otherwise contort himself into a human Gumby, as Con Man Gardner has done repeatedly.

      • Early Worm says:

        I would just like him to say or do something to demonstrate his support. Thousands of Jeffco residents (and others) want to vote against this school board, but do not have that option.  Given them a proxy to vote for.

        • Miss Jane says:

          That might be a bit tricky.  Framing it will be the thing.  Maybe starting broadly, then focusing it on the Gardnermonster  would work.  One problem is that many of the people who create these ads don't have an intimate grasp of conditions on the ground.  


          • JBJK16 says:

            It frames it self. All Udall (or Romanoff, Hickinlooper, or any state candidate ) needs to do is show up, talk to the kids about the value of education and the importance of civil disobedience in American history. Put out a release saying the same, ignore the board and the board members, it's not about the,.

            • BlueCat says:

              Agree and also agree with Early Worm that it might have the effect of giving those in Jeffco who oppose the board a way of expressing that opposition by voting for the candidate standing with them on this issues in this race. Those who love what the board is doing aren't going to vote for a Dem anyway.

    • Gray in Mountains says:

      I was surprised last week when the College Board endorsed the student's behavior. Normally a bureaucratic org like that just ignores this sort of thing. Udall could say something like "School boards should be concerned with curriculum. Boards when they are making decisions ought to pay attention to groups like the College Board and I join the College Board with support for students and parents demanding a forthright and honest curriculum."

  6. BlueCat says:

    Hurray for our  students.  Because of them more attention is bringing brought to bar on the insidious far right take-over of school boards and what that means for our children's education than ever before. If only the teachers were protesting it would be chalked up to those darn liberal union loving teachers and it wouldn't have amounted to enough to get more than a brief mention here and there. It's the students of Jeffco who are keeping this in public eye. 

    This could be the beginning of no more flying under the radar for extremist  school board slates all over the country with radical repressive agendas. This is a very, very  big important thing the kids are doing and it's self motivated, not directed by teachers or any other adults. These kids are doing their homework and know what they're talking about. We should all be proud of them.

  7. notaskinnycook says:

    The teachers and the kids are fine, it's their parents who have to take the blame for this. If they'd paid attention and voted in the school board election these teapublican idiots would never have gotten those seats. The turnout in that election was abysmal as I recall.

    • BlueCat says:

      That's always been the case with school board elections. They get very little attention so a slate with a small ideological core of followers has little trouble taking over. That's how the religious right got its foot in the door politically in the first place decades ago. These kids are drawing much needed attention for future elections.

      • Sunmusing says:

        and if you look at Who is backing these Bircher school board members, you will see a pattern of corruption by ALEC, and the Koch boys…the Kochs have been using big money to buy school boards, and human resource offices around the country…this is a plan…and it seems to be working…except in Jeffco…they got wise to the fact that the board is corrupt…

  8. taterheaptom says:

    Does Marcia Neal know about this?  Maybe they can get Scooter to write up a history on water, or at least some musings.

  9. mamajama55 says:

    Teachers involved in these protests are taking a real risk. Not the old, established, non-probational teachers so much as the young, climbing-up-the-learning-curve teachers, those on their evaluation years, those whom the administration is already pissed off at for one reason or another.

    I know of what I speaketh, as a teacher who organized for the union, spoke out against inappropriate curriculum choices, and never got a good evaluation again, in spite of two consecutive years of outstanding  student reading growth.

    • Denver Yankee says:

      Mandy Connell on KHOW 630 am 9 tried to address this issue this morning, to her credit at the end of a suck-up interview with Ken Witt, by asking about the prevalent fear among Jeffco teachers that they would be punished for asking questions.  Witt gave a very brief dismissive and patronizing answer and ended the interview.

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