JeffCo district officials warn against second 'sick out'

JEFFERSON COUNTY – Parents in Jefferson County didn't know whether their kids would have school Monday.

The nasty dispute between some conservative school board members and members of the teachers union led to a "sick out" Friday when enough teachers called in sick at Standley Lake High School and Conifer High School that those schools had to cancel class.

The district feared another teacher protest may close schools on Monday. Monday morning, the district announced that none of the schools would need to close due to sick calls.

Last week, the district didn't call off school until late Thursday night and early Friday morning.

Jefferson County teacher and parent Ami Prichard participated Friday and said the protests are born out of frustration, and desperation. Prichard is also a former JCEA president.

PREVIOUS STORY: Teacher absences cancel classes at 2 schools

"I feel that my number one job is to advocate for students," she said. "And I feel like taking this action is advocating for students."

"When one person or a group of people who are not in classrooms are making decisions about our curriculum -- and there's no teacher input or buy in -- it's very scary," she added.

Prichard added there are many differences between the teachers and conservative-leaning members of the school board. At the top of the list: a proposed change to the AP History curriculum that would "promote citizenship, patriotism" and "not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Another concern was newly-approved pay raises that would be tied to teacher performance.

"We are worried about the amount of disrespect that's happening by our school board," she said.

District 2 school board member John Newkirk said he was surprised and disappointed by the teachers who chose to stay home.

"I think it's unfortunate that teachers whose motto is stand up for all students instead decided to walk out on them," Newkirk said. "I think that's too bad."

"I certainly hope our teachers have learned from last Friday that this type of behavior doesn't help our kids," he added.

Staging an informal strike is illegal under Colorado Law. Newkirk wouldn't speculate on whether or not teachers will face disciplinary or legal action for Friday's sick out.

Board president Ken Witt told 9NEWS he has "no tolerance for interference with Jeffco students' classroom education."

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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