Jeffco School Board Majority Shuts Minority Out

UPDATE: A fresh report from the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland has us wondering if major recall opponent group Americans For Prosperity is preparing for a loss in the Jefferson County school board recall elections?

Regardless of the outcome of the recall…

The politicians, school board candidates and conservative education reformers at an Americans for Prosperity Foundation education-reform strategy session Sunday repeated this mantra.

Two conservative Jefferson County Board of Education members whose jobs are on the line in the November recall, board Chair Ken Witt and Vice-Chair Julie Williams, heard this short-term-grim/long-term-hopeful message repeated again and again…

“We’ll be here on November 4 (the day after the election), regardless of what happens in the elections,” [Recall opponent Sheila] Atwell told the audience, which included Williams and Witt. “That’s what parents need to understand – this is a year-round effort. We always have to be vigilant.” [Pols emphasis]

Great long-term bravado, but for the three board members up for recall right now, maybe not the best message.

Or maybe it’s the only realistic message.

—–

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

Jeffco school board member John Newkirk.

As reported by Support Jeffco Kids, relations between the conservative Jefferson County school board majority–presently facing a recall election–and the outgoing minority members have broken down to a degree that appears to be affecting the body’s basic responsibilities. Here’s outgoing minority member Jill Fellman describing the latest incident of red-on-blue bad faith:

There is an Agenda Setting Meeting with the Superintendent and his Cabinet a week or so before every board meeting. The purposes of these meetings are to determine how much time agenda items might take and to give appropriate direction to Cabinet members to ensure agenda items meet the needs of the Board.

According to practice, Mr. Newkirk and I alternate going to these meetings. Today was my day to attend the meeting – so, I drove to the Ed. Ctr. Mr. Witt arrived at the meeting with Mr. Newkirk and informed me (in the presence of several staff members) (1) I was not needed and (2) Mr. Newkirk would be attending the Agenda Setting Meetings until the election.

I’m a big girl, and I can deal with the lack of respect that I see every day from this Board majority. At the same time, our District deserves elected officials who treat each other and the public with respect, even when they disagree on policy…

Outgoing Jeffco school board member Jill Fellman.

Outgoing Jeffco school board member Jill Fellman.

Obviously, there’s tension on the Jeffco school board today as a recall election targeting the conservative majority rapidly approaches. But that’s hardly an excuse for those majority members to exclude the minority from an official meeting setting the agenda for school board meetings. The high drama that has regularly erupted at Jeffco board meetings in recent months seems most unlikely to abate if the minority is shut out of the planning for those meetings. In fact, that seems like a sure way to further aggrieve the standing-room-only crowds who turn out month after month.

Staring down the barrel of a recall, it should be obvious that you shouldn’t make things worse for yourself with avoidable bad press. There’s nothing we can think of to be gained by shutting Fellman out of these meetings that isn’t outweighed by the negative impression this action gives the voters about to decide your fate. This is the kind of nasty anecdote field campaigns depend on to win undecided votes.

So yes, it’s a big mistake, committed out of what appears to be pure spite.

6 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Gadfly says:

    Odd I have not heard word one from the usually loquaciou:  Senator Michael Johnston, Congressman Jared Polis & the Democrats for Education Reform.

    Have they stepped up to support the recall or is the cause of charter schools more important than stemming the incredible damage being done to kids by the Jeffco School Board Majority?

  2. JeffcoBlue says:

    This ought to look good on WNW's resume. Hope they're dusting theirs off!

    • Moderatus says:

      They have full-time jobs, dolt. They won't lose them no matter what happens in the recall.

      • Republican 36 says:

        You missed JeffcoBlue's point.

        • Conserv. Head Banger says:

          Perhaps gadfly might elaborate on her/his comment about the "incredible damage being done to kids.” People might think, upon reading such a comment, that these kids are marked for life and will never amount to anything in society as a result of being educated in JeffCo public schools.

          I wonder if gadfly is a secret advocate for vouchers so our tax dollars can go to subsidize sectarian religious schools? Of course, such a move violates the Colorado Constitution, but such constitutional issues didn’t stop the religious crazies in Douglas County from trying a voucher scheme.

        • bullshit! says:

          He's not here to be receptive to anybody's "points." He is a shill.

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