Jeffco Residents Demand School Board Majority’s Resignation

Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

Gabrielle Porter of the Canyon Courier reports:

A petition signed by 6,554 Jeffco residents calling for school board President Ken Witt and board members John Newkirk and Julie Williams to resign caused a stir at the board’s meeting on Thursday evening.

Jeffco parent and petition organizer Molly Snyder told board members she is not affiliated with the teachers union, the Jefferson County Education Association. 

When Snyder presented the box of petitions during the meeting’s public comment segment, she alleged that the board’s conservative majority had broken public trust, wasted district money, violated the state’s open-meetings law, and misrepresented district schools and students in public discussions.

After last year's explosive battle over the conservative Jefferson County school board majority's politically stilted "review" of the district's AP history curriculum, there's been a bit of a lull in the action as the students, parents, and teachers involved regrouped. We've heard that, among other things, the photo taken by the Jefferson County Education Association's spokesman of board president Ken Witt with a group of fellow right wing school board presidents we posted last week has helped fire up the opposition again–a reminder that what is happening in Jefferson County is part of a larger agenda playing out in school districts across the state.

With that said, it will take more than a petition to dislodge Witt and fellow conservative board members John Newkirk and Julie Williams:

Newkirk said he would not step down until student achievement goals were met, and challenged Snyder to ask the petition signers to help meet those goals by volunteering in local schools. 

“When every child and every parent in Jefferson County has their first choice, whether it be in a school, charter school, option school, online school or otherwise — no more waiting lists — when there’s no achievement gap between our minority students and non-minority students, and, finally, when Jeffco becomes the nation’s leader in academic achievement, then I’ll step down, because my work here will be done,” Newkirk said. 

During his speech, nearly half the restive audience — largely made up of people in blue JCEA shirts — stood and turned their backs on the board podium.

What happens next? We don't know exactly–but everything we hear suggests that the conflict between the Jeffco school board's right-wing majority and the politically moderate community they serve is rapidly coming to a head. Stay tuned.

7 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. FrankUnderwood says:

    Let me play devil's advocate here.  As a Jeffco resident who totally disagrees with everything these three stooges have said and done since taking office, I must say that someone elected these clowns.  The fact that 6,554 of my fellow Jeffersonians (out of 534,000 per 2010 census) want them to resign aint gonna get them out.

    Besides, I see them as the gift that just keeps giving.  They helped re-elect John Hickenlooper, Cheri Jahn and Andy Kerr.  They've driven the student to the streets.  They'll spawn all sorts of interesting litigation during the tenures in office.  And they're showing just how brain-dead the right wingers are.

    When they give you lemons, make lemonade.

  2. Progressicat says:

    "And if you continue to refuse to resign, even in the face of our modest, nay, paltry demonstration of distaste (in light of the 70 tp 82,000 votes cast in your favor), we shall be forced to insist even more forcefully!"

  3. BlueCat says:

    We've seen how recalls in low profile races in off years can be successful because such a small percentage turn out that a motivated cohesive little band can wield completely outsized influence. Must say I have no idea what the recall options are for school board members but if it's doable, turn about is fair play. Let the games begin. 

  4. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    As a fellow JeffCo resident, I'm with Frank on this one. Recalls are expensive, and unless there is a radical zealot organization pushing it (think RMGO), recalls aren't likely to succeed.

    I'll offer a thought that when these three are up for re-election, it will NOT be a low profile race. (disclosure: I voted for them because I wanted some changes. Now not sure I would vote for them again).    C.H.B.    (AC/DC Rules!)

  5. mamajama55 says:

    This teen in Hyattsville, Maryland persuaded her city council to let 16-year-olds vote in municipal elections. Watch out, Jeffco School Board members! Many young activists learned some powerful civics lessons last fall.

    This makes a lot of sense to me – high school juniors are fresh from civics and government classes, they're still naive enough to believe in people power, they have energy and enthusiasm,  and they should be able to vote on issues which directly affect their lives.


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