After Thursday night’s Board meeting, a lot of people are asking, “What can I do…now?”
A lot of people are calling for recall, and while we favor the sentiment, the time is not yet ripe. As bad as WNW+Miller (Witt, Newkirk, Williams plus their attorney, Miller) have behaved and performed, the sad fact is it will take even more brazen acts before the majority of JeffCo residents would be willing to vote for a recall.
But that does not mean there is nothing that can or needs to be done now. In fact, there is a LOT that can and needs to be done. Some of it we are already doing.
The first and most important thing is to PUBLICIZE, or get the word out. We are working hard on that. There is this blog site and it’s Facebook page. There is SupportJeffCoKids.org, Also on Facebook is Transparency JeffCo which posts edited videos of the Board meetings. There is also coverage from the local newspapers, the Denver Post, the website ColoradoIndependent.com (made up primarily of former Rocky Mountain News people), as well as political blogs from the left, right, and center. We see cars with home-printed signs in the back windows, and other signs being held up at meetings. The word is getting out.
The next thing is to ATTEND. Having people actually showing up in large numbers, expressing their viewpoints and making sure that WNW+Miller cannot act outside the light of public scrutiny. It also is heartening to Ms. Fellman and Ms. Dahlkemper to see people supporting them in their outnumbered fight.
Now we need to start taking the next steps: to VOICE our opinions. There are two ways that we can do this directly to the Board members.
First, you can sign up to speak to the Board. If you want to talk to the Board on a subject that is on that meetings agenda, sign up here: Comment on an Agenda item. We will always post the upcoming agenda (plus our observations) as early in the week as we can – so keep on a look out!
If you want to talk to the Board about a subject that is NOT on the agena, sign up here: Comment on a non-Agenda item. You can only sign up for the next meeting.
Second, you can send an email to the Board as a whole. This is an under-utilized option, and one we should definitely use more often. The Board is obligated to respond to all emails and letters sent to them. District Policy KDA – Correspondence from the Public states,
“The secretary of the Board shall respond to all Board correspondence with the assistance of the superintendent or designee. Information that has been researched by the administrative staff in response to Board correspondence shall be sent to all Board members.”
This means that Mr. Newkirk, who is the Board’s Secretary, MUST respond to any letter you send. Further, if that letter requires research on his part or the part of the District staff, that information must be sent to all of the other Board members as well.
This is a BIG difference between the verbal comment portion of a Board meeting and a letter to the Board. The verbal comment does not have to be responded to by WNW. A letter or email does!
Do you want to know why the Board ignored almost every national and state study that shows how Kindergarten helps under-priviledged kids do better in school? Send in an email! Do you want to know what, if any, monitoring of Charter schools who needed loans is being done to safeguard those loans, and what will happen if the Charter schools default on them? Send in an email!
You can send the email to firstname.lastname@example.org or an actual physical letter to: The Board of Education, Jefferson County,1829 Denver West Dr., Golden CO 80401.
There are a couple of rules you should follow. First, no profanity or vulgarities, no matter how much you feel certain Board members deserve them. You also need to address the entire Board, not just a few members. Finally, anonymous letters will not be published in the Board agenda. So be polite and sign your name with pride!
“Okay,” you say. “I don’t mind send an email, but I am not sure what to write about?”
We understand. Sometimes when it comes to putting keystrokes to the computer, the best writer amongst us can have a block. To help you along, we have put together a list of suggested topics and questions. Do not use these verbatim, but rather as inspiration. Fundamentally, these questions need to be coming from YOU, the JeffCo parent, teacher, staff member, resident, or just concerned adult.
- Why did the Board feel it necessary for the first time ever to hire an attorney to represent specifically just the Board?
- Why did the Board refuse to fill the post of Attorney for the District, leaving it without an in-house counsel of its own?
- Why does the Board loan more than $850,000 to poorly managed charter schools with no strings attached? If there are strings, please explicitly list them.
- Why did certain members of the Board try to stop the Deer Creek STEM expansion?
- Why does the Board discriminate in how groups are treated during public comment?
- Why does the Board refuse to have public discussion of Brad Miller’s hiring and contract?
- Who redacted Brad Miller’s February Invoice?
- Why did the Board go against the advice of the District’s counsel and the District’s Capital Assets Advisory Committee (“CAAC”) on withdraw the appeal of the 2090 Wright Street ruling?
- Why did the Board refuse to consider a one-year contract extension with JCEA and JCAA prior to JCEA declaring an impasse?
- Why did the Board remove $4 million dollars from the employee compensation placeholder?
- Why did the Board ignore almost every study on the efficacy of full-day Kindergarten for at-risk children and remove $600,000 for free, full-day Kindergarten for schools with 35%+ Free or Reduced Lunch-qualified students?
- Why does the Board intend to an optional $3.7 million to the charter schools without any feedback from the charter schools on how it will be spent? How can this be reconciled with the Board’s stance on the free, Full-Day kindergarten defunding?
The list can go on, and on, and on,….
This, too, is real democracy. In fact, it is enshrined in our Constitution’s 1st Amendment! The last phrase of the 1st Amendment states: “and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
And we certainly have grievances that need redressing!
There will be more to do as the year goes on, but how well and hard you do what you can NOW will greatly determine what we can do next.
So let’s get going!