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January 27, 2015 01:12 PM UTC

Jeffco School District Hires New Communications Head...After Committee Deemed Her "Unqualified"

  • by: Colorado Pols
Dan McMinimee
Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee hired a new Chief Communications Officer despite warnings from a hiring committee that she was unqualified.

Local blogger and author Paula Reed has the scuttlebutt on yet another ridiculous decision made by Jefferson County Schools Superintedent Dan McMinimee. As she writes in a post titled, "Our New Chief Propaganda Officer":

Lynn Setzer, JeffCo’s Chief Communications Officer, left JeffCo last November.  As has been the process, an interview team of staff members assembled to bring forward a list of qualified candidates to replace her.  JeffCo’s superintendent ignored all of their recommendations and went for a candidate whom the interview committee had deemed unqualified.  She did not go to public school, sends her kids to private school, and has no experience in communications for any public school system.  In fact, two of the five board members questioned hiring her.  They, too, were ignored, and she was hired for more money than her experienced predecessor. [Pols emphasis]

Kind of like this superintendent, hired despite his lack of experience and despite the legitimate questions of two of the five board members and paid more than his far more experienced, far more educated predecessor.

What made our new Chief Communications Officer, Lisa Pinto, so attractive to this superintendent and board majority?  She is a graduate of the distinctly political Leadership Program of the Rockies, a tea-party-run organization with an explicit political agenda and to which two of the board majority are tied.  In short, they now get to use taxpayer money to publicize their agenda.

Yowzers. Jefferson County Schools hired a new Chief Communications Officer that the interview committee had deemed unqualified…and not only that, but they hired someone who hails from the "Leadership Program of the Rockies," an organization founded by a longtime vouchers advocate: former Congressman Bob Schaffer.

Sometimes it can be difficult to gauge if a new hiring decision is purely political, but in this case? Not so much. As Reed points out, Lisa Pinto's problems with English and grammar were front-and-center in the latest issue of "Chalk Talk," the parent newsletter created by the Jeffco Schools' communications office. This is an actual paragraph reportedly written by someone with the title of "Chief Communications Officer":

“Students, teachers, parents, administrators, President John Ford of the Jefferson County Educators’ Association and community members have all expressed concern that students are being over assessed and that the number of assessments and time required by state standardized tests has become excessive. On Thursday, Jan. 15,  your school board voted 3 (for) -1(against)-1 (abstained) (with Mr. Witt, Newkirk and Ms. Williams voting in favor) to request waivers from the State Board of Education from the Performance Based PARCC assessments.”

It's not too difficult to see why a hiring committee might have suggested that Pinto was "unqualified."


14 thoughts on “Jeffco School District Hires New Communications Head…After Committee Deemed Her “Unqualified”

  1. Republicans always "fail upward." It's part of their demented pathology.

    If family-values Christianist David Vitter can be handily reelected to the Senate in LA after being caught in diapers having sex with hookers, why can't some two-bit CO GOP propagandist land a fat, cushy job despite being an incompetent failure?

  2. It's pretty hard to imagine that someone with this woman's experience is "unqualified".  According to her linkedin profile (, she has been a guest commentator on international television since 2001. She's also worked for the DA's office that's prosecuting the Aurora Theater Shooter.

    Here's what it sounds like is really going on.  There are some nasty politics happening within the district because a union hack didn't replace the former Chief Communications Officer. Bullying a minority (Hispanic) female executive is not acceptable in most circles. Also, she's a boardmember of Denver Scholarship Foundation, which is dedicated to making college affordable for at-risk kids.  What a horrible person she is. (sarcasm)

    As far as grammar issues go, it sounds more like the real issue is that reporting the votes made someone mad.  If people aren't proud of their votes, change them.  The one vote against and the abstention regarding the PARCC waiver vote is way out of step with most educators and members of the community.  But, it is IN step with people who are in favor of Common Core, like one board member's employer.

    Bullying a minority female staff member is pretty low even for you guys.

    1. Oh, so noooowwwwww you and yours are suddenly all upset about what you perceive for self-serving reasons as a "minority female" being "mistreated."

      Would that you had nearly such "concern" and "compassion" for women and minorities who aren't carrying water for your right-wing agenda…

      I'd say that's "low even for you guys," but actually it's par for the course for your ilk. So please cry us a river (of crocodile tears).

      1. It is a qualification, and one when coupled with her prosecutorial experience makes her a valid person to consider interviewing.  

        The only "scandal" aspect of this is that "LPR" is involved.  While LPR may be many things (overpriced? make-work program for certain people? overmarketed?) it is hardly some sort of a sinister organization.  For heaven sakes, it is one of the few conservative organizations that pushes a semi-pro-immigrant message in this state. 

    2. Nice try. This isn't abut gender or ethnicity.  Perhaps you should re-read  the emphasized portion:

      JeffCo’s superintendent ignored all of their recommendations and went for a candidate whom the interview committee had deemed unqualified.  She did not go to public school, sends her kids to private school, and has no experience in communications for any public school system.  In fact, two of the five board members questioned hiring her.  They, too, were ignored, and she was hired for more money than her experienced predecessor.

      [Pols emphasis] – See more at:

    3. Experience isn't just "I've spoken in public before". It's being able to conform to the duties and expectations of a spokesperson. It's knowing your subject matter so that when you're asked to put together press pieces, you know what you're talking about. If I'm interviewing for a software engineer position and the qualifications include "expert in signal processing algorithms", I don't expect to be rated as "qualified" if I haven't been at least working on related code. In this respect, Pinto was inexperienced, and the interview staff rated her according to those qualifications.

      I agree that saying "two of the board members questioned her qualifications" is a political statement. Of course, being that the three majority board members had political motivations to reject the interview committee's recommendations and hire Pinto, who was more to their political liking, there's no escaping the politicization…

      The fact is, this board has repeatedly shown its hostility toward any number of public education goals. And it has also demonstrated a repeated predilection toward hiring candidates of lesser qualification into positions for greater amounts of money than a fiscally conservative school board should be spending, all because those candidates seem to have a connection to their political affiliation. Why is the hiring of Lisa Pinto an issue? Because it extends the questionable record of the board majority; the citizens of JeffCo have every right to complain about these shoddy and very un-conservative practices that quack a lot like a cronyism duck.

  3. Really enjoy listening to right wingers like ColoMom complain about "union hacks" and act like a teacher's union is the source of all evil. ( Teachers unionized iniitally because a school board wanted to cut the pay of female teachers in order to pay male teachers much more. )

    Enjoy working a 40 hour week and having weekends? Thank a union member.

    Enjoy having a safe place to work? Thanks a union member.

    Paid vacation? family and medical leave? sick leave? a minimum wage? overtime pay? wrongful termination laws? age discrimination laws? the list goes on.

    There are bad unions out there, just like any industry or group has its bad apples, but overall the good far outweighs the bad.  Lets find solutions and stop the demonizing. Unons play a key role and protect (usually) workers against bad rules and bad management (see Douglas County, Schools of)



    1. Right you are. In fact, our middle class would never have become the broadest most prosperous on the planet if not for unions.They made those industrial sector jobs living wage jobs.  Now that they're pretty much crushed we need to make the service/retail sector jobs that replace our lost industrial sector jobs living wage jobs via living minimum wage. Its the only way the majority of Americans are going to be as well off as they were heading into the 70s again. 

      Right now, we're not, no matter how well the stock market or GDP is doing.  As long as all the gain goes to the top 1%, with most of it going only to the top .1% and the lion's share of that going only to the top.01% and .001%, the majority middle is worse off than it was when today's boomers were kids and minimum wage was worth much more, to the point where you really could save enough from after school jobs and make enough during school with part time jobs to get an education without crushing debt. 

      No matter how much opportunity people have or how hard they work, arithmetic tells us you can't fit more than 10% into the top 10% or 1% into the top 1%. The Rs think those who don't make the cut are losers and don't deserve any better. They must think 90% barely getting by with enough to eat would be just fine, probably the will of God or something. That is unless one of the things, besides evolution and climate change, that they don't accept is math. Maybe they really do think we can almost all fit into those top percentiles if we work hard enough and any math that says different must be liberal biased?

      Maybe they should just ad "I'm not a mathematician" to the "I'm not a scientist" mantra.

  4. Colomom needs to get her facts straight. An interview hiring committee who had no association with the union did not recommend her as a qualified candidate to be hired.  They did recommend several candidates who were qualified. These recommendation were ignored by Mcminimee the Superintendent and he not only hired her but did so for a salary far greater than the person who had the job previous with many years of qualified experience. So if she was not qualified people should be asking why was she hired? She is a part of the same political group as two of the board members Witt and Newkirk. This political group along with the two board members have shown to be against public education. Mcminimee who hired her also happens to have been hired under the same set of circumstances at a higher salary despite being under qualified and not being a recommended candidate by an independent hiring committee. Lisa Pinto's first publication shows hints and indications of the political agenda the board majority and Mcminimee have been following as well as poor grammar. 

    If you want to back up the old chief communications officer who was highly qualified quit after being fed up working under Mcminimee. Just this week the chief financial officer also quit. If this was a business investors would be worried about the business if so many executives were quitting. Thankfully it is not a business but sadly it is in charge of producing our future citizens. Parents, community members and teachers have a right to be concerned that Mcminimee along with Witt, Newkirk and Williams are trying to ruin a long rich history of excellence in Jeffco with their many questionable decisions. There are many other examples out there of similar bad decisions being made by this board and Superintendent and people in the community have a right to know,  


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