Ken Witt: Not Very Nice (or Smart)

A new story out of the scandal-plagued Jefferson County school board late last night, following an ugly exchange between the chairman of the new conservative majority Ken Witt and a Jeffco student representing the group Jefferson County Students for Change. A complaint filed by Jeffco parent Wendy McCord today recounts what happened:

Bullying is defined as “any written or verbal expression, or physical or electronic act or gesture, or a pattern thereof, that is intended to coerce, intimidate, or cause any physical, mental or emotional harm to any student.”

Witt made a defamatory statement regarding a District student, who is a minor, at the Meeting. He not only accused her of using racial epithets, he also directed district staff to post social media screenshots that identified the student by name. In addition, Witt said he refused to have anything to do with the organization that this student represents.

Aside from the obvious hypocrisy that Witt won’t associate with students who essentially “liked” a Tweet but continues to sit next to (and serve on the Board with) a woman who posted material from an identified hate group encouraging parents to keep their children out of schools to protest a day designed to prevent bullying of LGBT students and staff, Witt’s statements were completely unacceptable.

Since the moment Witt, Newkirk and Williams took office, they have repeatedly embarrassed this District. They continue to degrade and demean not only our staff but, as evidenced in this circumstance, our students. These are the very stakeholders the Board and all district staff are supposed to protect.

In the video above, you can see minority board member Jill Fellman responding to the student, suggesting that the board use available time in a future meeting to have a conversation with the student group Jeffco Students for Change. Witt interrupts Fellman to accuse the leader of this group, who was one of the handful of people still in attendance at this meeting after midnight, of “favoriting…on Facebook er social media” (Witt is a little unclear about what kind of social media he is referring to) “racial epithets about district staff.” On the basis of this, Witt announces that he “will not have any association with this group.” It’s not seen in the video, but Witt directed to have a Tweet identifying the student in question projected on the large screen at the front of the room.

Readers will recall that the communications director for Jeffco schools, Lisa Pinto, has claimed she was racially insulted via Twitter over a post from an anonymous spoof account about “burritos” being served–in fact a reference to the meeting we helped publicize earlier this year between Witt and the conservative board chairs of several other Colorado school districts at Lakewood’s Jose O’Shea’s Mexican restaurant. This case of silly misplaced outrage formed the basis of a notably unsuccessful countermessage campaign from the Independence Institute, hoping to garner sympathy for Pinto–and shift attention away the ongoing PR disaster that is board member Julie Williams, or the district’s increasingly bad-faith contract negotiations.

It’s necessary to explain all of that in order to understand just how off-base Witt was in attacking this student and the student group represented. Once you understand this, Witt’s ridiculous bullying of a student he is charged with representing over merely “starring” something entirely inoffensive, projecting the student’s name for all to see in the board room and disparaging an entire group of Jeffco students over it…well folks, it’s pretty outrageous conduct. Not to mention, given the recent controversy over Williams’ sharing of a hate group’s call to defend discrimination, hypocritical in the extreme.

Which seems to be the rule these days on the Jeffco school board.

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  1. FrankUnderwood says:

    GOP candidates and officeholders have such great names. We had Jeff Crank in CD 5 (who lived up to his appellation), Ken Buck (whose name sounds like a porn star), Larry Queen, Vicky "Lost" Marbles, Bare-Assed Chaps and Ken “Dim” Witt. 

  2. Gilpin Guy says:

    And like the Neville Nutters, these folks have years ahead of them to be as completely stupid as they can be.  Hope the educational professionals can handle this period of mistrust and bullshit.  What a dimwitted dick.

  3. hawkeye says:

    One must remember that school board members are at or near the bottom of the political food chain, perhaps a bit higher than the elected town dog catcher.  They're almost always beholden to some special interest, usually on the fringes.  Not much independent thought.  In the case of Jeffco, not much thought at all.

  4. Chickenheed says:

    Dear Ken Witt,

    Are you aware the leader of Jeffco Student Network for Change​ is a 17 year old Jeffco student whose actions inspire her community? Are you aware that, as president of the Jeffco Schools Board of Education, you should be doing everything in your power to encourage students like her who want to participate in local government? Do you even give half a fuck about the students you represent? Because it appears all you care about is "winning" your game, whatever the fuck that is.

    Here's some things you should be aware of:
    -Nina Pinto is not Mexican. Burritos are Mexican. Learn to tell the fucking difference. Not all Latinos are Mexican.
    -It's call "favoriting a tweet." If you're going to judge a 17 year old about her social media actions, learn what they are first.
    -Most people in Colorado like burritos. Not just the brown people.
    -Last, but definitely not least: It is NEVER OK to tell a student group you don't want to be associated with them!

    Sincerely, and I mean this, you're a fucktard.

  5. JeffcoDemoJeffcoDemo says:

    I use to think that they would quietly bust the union, start as many charers as they could, funnel as much as the could away from the neigborhood schools as he could, please their masters and just try to stay under the radar.  But they just cannot help themselves, they have to piss off and insult every parent, teacher, and now student that looks at them crosswise.  It's like they are trying to top each other in stupid and by this time, that is a pretty high bar.

  6. Early WormEarly Worm says:

    I don't think the "burrito" reference had anything to do with the Jose O'Shea summit, although the truth doesn't make Witt any less of a bully. Apparently the original tweet, "Pretty sure if there was a burrito guy at these board meetings he would make a killing" was tweeted at 8:47 pm by someone at the meeting, making light of how late the meeting was going. Hard to perceive that as racist given the prevalence of burrito salesmen at public events in Colorado.  (Also, the tweeter self-describes as "half Mexican").  That was retweeted at 9:49 pm by the satirical "Notlisa Pinto" with the following addition, "I'll hire a burrito guy on contract!"  This is in reference to Ms. Pinto's practice of sub-contracting out her own pr responsibilities.  Again, unless there is some racial stereotype that I am not aware of, criticizing someone for not doing their own work is not a racist slur. 

  7. SocialisticatProgressicat says:

    Let's assume. arguendo, that the burrito thing actually was a naked expression of bigotry at Ms. Pinto.  Particularly because arguing about Mexico's greatest culinary contribution to the world is allowing Witt to frame the discussion.

    So, a child, who is also a member of a student organization, favorited a racial attack on Lisa Pinto.

    As the leader of the Board of Education, you have a choice:

    a) Refuse to have any dealings with that child (and, God knows, a 17-year-old is one), publicly shame her, and collectively punish the group she's associated with.

    or

    b) Engage that child, express your concerns as part of an eminently teachable moment on how to treat people, and treat a group of students who've organized to action (which I though was what we dreamed of while educating them) with the respect and pride which that action should engender.

    AnassholepicksA?

  8. caphilldenverdem says:

    These Jeffco School Board nuts are going to make sure that the Democrats regain their Senate Majority — Run Rachel Zenzinger Run!

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