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May 18, 2015 08:53 AM MDT

Seriously? Jeffco School District Spurns Democratic Governor

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Aguilar, here come the lame excuses:

Sen. Andy Kerr, D-Lakewood, said the jettisoned ceremony was particularly relevant to Jefferson County students because it would have involved the enactment of House Bill 1323, a hotly debated test reduction measure.

“The look on kids’ faces when they get to meet the governor and he has a bill in front of him that is about to become law — that experience for students is incredible,” said Kerr, who teaches at the online Jeffco Virtual Academy…

Jefferson County Schools has been through a tumultuous year, with a flood of negative headlines generated over a controversial curriculum proposal and superintendent selection process. District spokeswoman Lisa Pinto said a visit from the governor, accompanied by a potentially large media contingent, “would be difficult for our schools to accommodate,” especially on short notice.


Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.
Jeffco Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee.

Even more unforced bad press for the Jefferson County Board of Education’s conservative majority, as the Colorado Independent’s Kyle Harris reports:

Jefferson County public schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee told Governor John Hickenlooper’s office and Colorado lawmakers that they’re a security risk and unwelcome to conduct bill signings in the district’s schools, says the governor’s Chief Strategy Officer Alan Salazar.

Superintendent McMinimee found his district embroiled in controversy last fall when the newly elected conservative school board proposed updating AP US History curriculum to deemphasize chapters of “conflict” — such as Native American genocide, slavery, the civil rights movement –and to downplay the way protest and civil disobedience have brought tremendous social change…

Now, with the district refusing to host the governor and lawmakers, observers are wondering if the political history of the present seems equally suspect to the board.

Top staffer for Gov. John Hickenlooper Alan Salazar vented his frustration via Facebook:

Still trying to get my head around learning last week that the Superintendent of Jeffco Schools informed legislators and our office that the Governor of Colorado could not do a bill signing at any district schools because his presence at such an event presented a “security risk” to students. Really? Seems to me that any school would welcome a governor and legislators for a real life example of our democracy in action. Apparently not in Jeffco.

Gov. Hickenlooper’s chilly reception in Jefferson County differs notably from his experience just last week at a northeast Denver elementary school:

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 2.10.58 PM

Responding to the Independent’s story, Jeffco Schools communications officer Lisa Pinto says that “a week did not give us time to cover his security needs and figure out logistics for our students,” which is completely absurd. As the Independent notes in two updates to their story today, Pinto says it would be just fine for the Governor to visit a Jeffco school next fall, to “see our incredible staff and students at work,” and just by coincidence when the fall school board elections are that much closer! Commenting on Alan Salazar’s Facebook post, Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs offered a school venue within his jurisdiction instead.

We’ve been closely following the antics of the Jefferson County School District since a conservative majority took control of the Jeffco School Board in 2013, as regular readers of Colorado Pols and Jeffco Pols well know. Long ago, we stopped being surprised at the idiocy of top Jeffco officials and spokespeople, and for good reason–rarely do a few weeks pass before some new bit of nonsense news trickles out of the Jeffco Administration Building. But we can’t help but be a little shocked now and then, and this incident certainly qualifies as an eyebrow-raiser.

Bottom line: this is a completely ridiculous and counterproductive political snub for these low-level officials to deal the Governor of Colorado–especially for a group mired in as much ongoing political controversy as the Jeffco school board. Refusing an offer for the governor to sign a bill at a school in their district is spiteful and combative to an unacceptable and pointless extreme. There’s no good excuse for denying Jeffco students a chance at valuable civic education, and there’s not even a political downside for this conservative board majority to allow Hickenlooper to use a Jeffco public school as a backdrop (though we can see why they’d rather have Hickenlooper there in the fall to give them electoral cover).

Apart from students robbed an opportunity to see government in action, the only negatives here are for Superintendent Dan McMinimee and the conservative board majority–who doubtless were party to this decision. It’s the type of petty nonsense that voters tend to remember, and a politically asinine decision to boot.


28 thoughts on “Seriously? Jeffco School District Spurns Democratic Governor

  1. An honest question:  what is the school district doing security-wise for Hick's visit?  He has personal security.  A gauntlet of armed teachers?

    1. The Governor of Colorado is well protected by the state police. I had the chance to get to meet some of Gov. Ritters' security people once upon a time. Very professional outfit, as I recall…dimly…

  2. Back in the day any school district would be thrilled to host the state's Governor, regardless of party. Obviously the security issue thing is just a far fetched excuse from a completely partisan Board to avoid a visit that would require them to be nice to a (horrors) Dem Guv. It's a sad, sad, state of affairs. Even a decade ago I can't imagine this level of partisanship on a school board. And, modster? Don't even try to justify this. Pinto? Just shut up. The Jeffco School Board is simply the worst, most partisan, most petty, most ignorant in the state. Way to go, Jeffco voters. Am I ever glad we bought in Littleton School District, Arapahoe County when we moved here with our then baby boy.

  3. The hits keep on coming.


    "It was timing," [McMinimee] said, noting that the 8:30 a.m. start time for the ceremony coincides with one of the busiest times of the school day and busiest times of the school year, with graduations and testing in full swing.

    "If it was at 2:30 in the afternoon, we might be having a different conversation," McMinimee said.


    [McMinimee] said the primary mission of the district is student safety and that trying to hold a public ceremony featuring the governor at the start of the school day would stretch security staff at the district's 154 other schools.

    But not at the end of the school day, when security staff are, what, out drinking in their cars?

  4. I am not a grammar nazi and do not appreciate those that are.  My emails often contain typos and misspellings.  But, Lisa Pinto's response is embarrassingly grammar-challenged.

    "For your information, the governor’s visit was unanticipated and it was a tremendous honor, but unfortunately, a week did not give us time to cover his security needs and figure out logistics for our students who are in final exams, and of course we have graduations on Wednesday, too. We would welcome the JeffCo delegation and the governor here in the Fall to see all the innovative things we’re doing here at JeffCo schools and see our incredible staff and students at work. And the fall would be better because students wouldn’t be distracted by exams or graduation."

    My son (admittedly with 2 AP English courses under his belt), could do better. 

    As of Friday, he will be a JeffCo grad.

  5. This is completely partisan crap. Q: What school would not see a bill signing by a sitting Governor as a) an honor for their school to host, and b) an educational experience for the students? A: A Republican Christian-led school board majority desperately seeking ways to pacify their rabid, frothing-at-the-mouth Bible-thumping base. 

    Yes, these last few days are chaotic and confusing, with field trips, graduation and continuation ceremonies, final exams, etc. 

    But we're talking, what? reserving one big room for the Gov and staff, plus press, plus probably some selected students, to attend a bill signing. Maybe 50 people in all. 

    Early Worm, you're right about Lisa Pinto's syntax-challenged statement: i'm seeing multiple run-on sentences, comma splices, non-sequiters, poor organization, and faulty logic. A C- at best for a high school English major – a D+ for a paid professional public relations and communications expert.

        1. Look, when Repubs get attacked, attacked, they say, by the librul media, which is always attacking them, like, every time they open their mouths they say, why, then their brains disengage and they babble nonsense and when they type their babble, why, it looks, even, even, dumber. 

  6. I think there might be another way to read this; the security isn't for the Govenor, but for the members of the school board and administration who might attend.  Consider:  making sure that no pinto-selling food trucks are within 2 miles of the school chosen; making sure that no gay students are in attendance at school that day who might possibly approach or, gasp, touch JW; and so forth for–this sort of security could take a great deal of time…

  7. What idiots.  Look, I hosted a reception for a future President and a former President, both on less that a week's notice, and I had not forewarning and no paid staff or money, either time.  Both had Secret Service folks to deal with who were experienced, helpful and knowledgeable.  The Governor has the same, and a lot less likelihood of being involved in some kind of violent incident.  Both were pulled off successfully with a complete volunteer staff.  Who the hell do these people think they are fooling.


    The reality, this is just part of the new idea of politics from Republicans.  They're trying to do here in Colorado what they've done to Obama and Clinton on a national level.  When they control stuff, they do everything they can to keep the other side from getting any publicity at all and complain about everything.  It's simple, everything that happens is the other guy's fault.  That's what they're doing here.  It's Hick's fault because he didn't give them enough time.  In a pig's eye.  That's a total lie.

  8. The bill signing ceremony would have called attention to Democratic leadership on reining in the over-testing insanity

    Over-testing is a genuine nonpartisan issue – students, teachers, unions, administrators (though they can't admit it publicly), parents, right and left wing partisans – nobody likes spending a third of school hours and resources testing, preparing, or grading tests.

    Pinto, Mini-me, et al, simply didn't want an opportunity for Dems to take credit for passing House Bill 1323,  a reasonable compromise that cuts back on testing for elementary school students, and high school juniors and seniors.

    A school board doesn't have any business indulging in partisan antics like this. They really should put education first.


  9. I suppose there's some time limit on when this signing has to take place. But is there enough time to arrange a signing ceremony in another school district?

  10. It's a slippery slope, I tell ya. First, ya let the democrat guv'nor hold an "assembly" to sign a "bill," and next ya know, Hillary is president and they're comin' for your guns.

    1. Seriously, anyone want to bet that Julie Williams isn't packing heat at every school board meeting?  No takers, right?

      Dim Witt and McMiniMe probably didn't want to risk getting frisked by Hick's State Trooper security contingent.

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