Jefferson County Schools Superintendent: 'I will be gone by the end of the month'

10:59 PM, Feb 8, 2014   |    comments
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GOLDEN - KUSA - The Jefferson County School board meeting that started at 8 a.m. Saturday morning abruptly ended in an emotional resignation by Superintendent Dr. Cindy Stevenson.

"I can't lead and manage, because I am not respected by this board," Stevenson said during the meeting, according to a tweet from Jefferson County Schools. "This board does not respect me."

WATCH: Video from the meeting

The board room was overflowing, spilling into the hallway. The meeting had to be moved due to the crowd. The board then asked Stevenson to address the audience.

"I have approached the board and I will be gone by the end of the month. I can't manage this district with this board," she said Saturday, according to Jeffco's Twitter account. She was tearful during the statement.

The cheers for Stevenson quickly turned into jeers towards recently-elected school board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams.

"The disruption was unfortunate. It's not OK for business meetings or public meetings to be disrupted," Board President Witt said.

After a 10 minute recess, Witt told the crowd that security has requested that the meeting be adjourned.

"Well, I am disappointed that we didn't get to continue with our meeting," Williams said. "I'm hoping that the crowd will be able to control themselves."

Stevenson has been superintendent of Jeffco Schools since 2002. Stevenson has spent a total of 34 years in the school district as a teacher and administrator.

"I really can't serve as the superintendent of Jeffco anymore," Stevenson said. "I've tried very hard to be gracious and honest and have Jeffco move forward."

READ: Jeffco Schools face different future with new school board

Earlier this week, she announced plans to take a job with the Colorado Association of School Executives after she leaves. In the fall, Stevenson initially announced plans to leave the district on June 30 after the conservative-leaning majority was elected contrary to her values as Jeffco's top educator.

"She announced a few days after the new board was elected that she chose to resign. That was nothing we did," Williams said. "It was my assumption that we were working fairly well."

The crowd and board member Lesley Dahlkemper feel much differently.

"Three members of this board made a decision to push out the superintendent," Dahlkemper said.

Lakewood High School Principal Ron Castagna says there should be a movement to recall the three new board members and hold another election.

"They can tell me all day long that this was Cindy's decision," Castagna said. "But, they have been clearly behind the scenes forcing her out."

Stevenson will take a job with the Colorado Association of School Executives this summer.

"The plan was that I would leave June 30th," Stevenson said. "So, I think it was the quickness and the suddenness that precipitated lots of people being here today."

After Stevenson leaves, Witt says the school board will not appoint an interim superintendent. Instead, he says the district's executive team will report directly to the school board until a permanent replacement is named.

"Having the opportunity to work with this district to get the right leadership in place as we focus on the future is a delight," Witt said.

Castagna questions the new board members' transparency, especially since they hired their own attorney, separate from the district.

"In three months, these folks are dismantling a great and proud school district where kids are embraced and given a chance each day," Castagna said. "They have their agenda and they keep it a secret."

Witt says it is no secret that Stevenson has served a long term as superintendent.

"It is typical for very large organizations to have leadership tenures that are shorter than [12 years]," Witt said. "That's because new leadership brings energy."

Castagna says these changes are bringing a fight.

"Go ahead," Castagna said, "bring it on."


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