Right-Wing School Board Presidents Caught Talking Shop

A photo taken yesterday by Scott Kwasny, the communications director of the Jefferson County Education Association, captures–apparently by random chance–a lunch meeting between Jefferson County Board of Education President Ken Witt and the conservative presidents of several other school boards across the state at Lakewood's Jose O'Shea's Mexican restaurant:


Ken Witt.

Ken Witt.

Witt is the guy hiding his face. We take Kwasny at his word on this, but you can also see Witt's blocky haircut poking out around his binder.

Kwasny identifies the other men in this picture as Kevin Larsen of Douglas County, Bob Kerrigan of the Thompson school district, Mark Clark of Adams 12 Five Star Schools, and Roger Good of Steamboat Springs–all conservative presidents of their respective school boards. According to Kwasny's Facebook post, the subject of discussion was teacher contracts.

To be clear, there's nothing illegal going on here, even though such a meeting raises obvious questions. These men all serve on different school boards, so they would not be subject to Colorado's open meetings law. The biggest problem with this photo is the optics–Ken Witt and the Jefferson County school board's conservative majority regularly insist that they are not coordinating ideological "Dougco-style" reforms to roll out in Jefferson County. He says so even after hiring the district's new superintendent out of Douglas County–but it's a matter of, you know, pretense.

Well folks, so much for that pretense.

31 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. bullshit! says:

    Proof of what we already knew. They're all in on this.

  2. I'm simply shocked to find this out…

  3. FrankUnderwood says:

    Eating at a Mexican restaurant is the shocker.  Too multicultural for this crowd.  They should have stuck to a Village Inn.  Or TGI Fridays.  Something American.

  4. Neight45 says:

    Just for all your information the Colorado Open Meeting "sunshine"  law is as such:   LEGISLATIVE POLICY: It is declared to be a matter of statewide concern and the
    policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and may
    not be conducted in secret.
    THE LAW COVERS: All boards, committees, commissions, authorities and other
    advisory, policy-making, rule-making or other formally constituted bodies, as
    well as any public or private entities that have been delegated governmental
    decision-making functions by a body or official. Administrative meetings (staff,
    faculty) are not open.

    I am no legal expert but it seems that Witt may be covering up  more than his face….  

    • Progressicat says:

      They are all members of such a body. but that are not members of the same body.  The group shown may collude, commiserate, or commode, but they don't make decisions together, so their meeting is not covered by the open meetings law.  That law is intended to stop a body from making a decision based on discussions hidden from the public.

      If Witt leaves this meeting and goes and grabs coffee with a couple of his board members to discuss strategy, that's a meeting covered by the statute.

  5. VR14 says:

    Yes, because minority members on the Left never meet with one another. I'm sure the previous non-conservative board presidents never met, either. And never mind any of the meetings down at CEA headquarters. I'm sure those are nothing to get excited about. Come on, folks. Are you really so blinded by ideological bias that you don't acknowledge that the other side does the same thing? Where is the outrage for that? Or does it only apply when the other "side" does it?

    Regardless of all that, it's hard to believe that a union official saw this by "random chance." Are they now following board presidents with whom they disagree? Isn't that a little creepy?

    And how does he know what they talked about? Did he deliberately eavesdrop? Or did he record it? Or was he just "randomly" placed at a table next to them? Or was he just guessing?

    But I guess no one here has bothered to ask themselves these questions. Funny how political blinders work, eh?

    • Davie says:

      Oh Boy!  The good old "Johnny does it too!" argument.  Geez, we've never heard that one before excusing hypocrisy and unethical behavior from right-wing apologists…  I'm sure we can expect equally original and incisive thinking from this goober.

      • VR14 says:

        You misunderstand. My comment was not intended as an examination of the ethicality of this type of meeting on either side of the political spectrum. Rather, I was highlighting the Left's seemingly endemic hypocrisy when it comes to how such meetings are viewed and the response they merit.

        Also, nice work dodging the other questions in my post. Totally not obvious.

        Alas, I should know better than to expect sophistication from someone who calls others "goobers" on the internet. 

        • BlueCat says:

          You won't get far with Johnny does it too arguments here. They just prove you've got nothing. Either something is justified or not, wrong or not, regardless of how many Johnnies do it too.

          • VR14 says:

            Please reread my previous comment slowly. Try to understand that there is no assertion of rightness or wrongness here. This meeting was legal, acceptable, and unsurprising in my mind, just as a meeting between anti-reform board members from separate boards would be legal, acceptable, and unsurprising in my mind. What I am questioning is your reaction to the meeting, not the moral and/or ethical reality of it. See the distinction?

            But while we're here, and because you seem to have taken the moral high ground in arguing that this meeting and all others like it are wrong or unjustified, please take the time to explain why. Make sure you specifically address why they are universally wrong, and why that wrongness would apply equally if these were anti-reform presidents. Please attempt to do so in an objective and unbiased way, as the foisting of your ideals onto others would be distressingly un-Left of you.

            I eagerly await your response.

            • BlueCat says:

              Don't need to reread it at all. Just pointing out how little respect any Johnny does it too based argument gets around here. You know. FYI. Oh and BTW, you're the one who needs to do the slow rereading. How could I have taken the moral high ground or any ground at all in arguing that this meeting is wrong when I've only made the one comment on this thread and it isn't about the meeting being right, wrong or anything else. In fact. I didn't mention the meeting. Shall I retype it slowly for you?

    • It's just that, well, we were promised that this kind of collusion wasn't going to happen. Really.

      Also, most groups tend not to hide such meetings.

      • VR14 says:

        I wouldn't exactly call meeting in a public restaurant in Jefferson County "hiding." As for the promises, I believe you were promised that Jeffco would not follow the blueprint laid out by Dougco, not that the two boards would never speak. That's an important distinction, and doubly so when you consider that the dubious source of this information probably has no real idea what was discussed.

    • Old Time Dem says:

      Do you have any evidence that "minority members on the Left" coordinate their actions?  Or is it just something that seems truthy to you, so it must be so?

      My experience is that school board members from different districts often meet in open fora, but that a private konklave consisting solely of ideologically aligned school board presidents is highly unusual.

    • bentleymom says:

      1) Can you cite a situation when the "liberal minority" members of the Jeffco School Board have publicly stated numerous that they either don't know, have never met, or are in no way collaborating with other elected officials and then been seen at a meeting with those officials?  It's the dishonestly and lack of transparency that raises eyebrows.

      2). I am surprised you haven't seen the FB thread–screen shots abound–but it was a parent who first overheard the discussion and then texted her teacher friends and posted it on FB.  That's the only reason anyone from JCEA knew about it. No stalking necessary when Witt has managed to offend an entire community.

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