JeffCo recall effort gets underway

Jeffco School Board recall effort launches. 9NEWS at 9 p.m. 07/08/15.

GOLDEN - Critics of the Jefferson County school board have officially launched an effort to recall the board's conservative majority.

The group called JeffCo United for Action is behind the push, and they held a petition kickoff event Wednesday night. Signatures can start being collected Wednesday.

The group launched the recall effort in late June.

Two JeffCo School board seats are up for election in November, the group wants all five seats up for election.

They're going after the conservative school board majority including board President Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams. All three were elected in 2013.

Wendy McCord is leading the effort to recall the board members, and said she is concerned that the board members have acted improperly and outside state laws and policies.

"My frustration over the last two years has really been process driven - a lot of law violations, policy violations," McCord said. "Ultimately, what I want is to see the recall question on the ballot and get people on the board who are more community minded."

JeffCo United for Action says the recall has to do with the lack of transparency and wasting taxpayer money.

One of the stated reasons for the recall is the board majority's consideration of reviewing the new Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum, which prompted waves of student protests in the suburban Denver district last year.

Board President Ken Witt told 9NEWS in June he welcomes the challenge to all five seats, calling it a chance to have an open dialogue about the future of JeffCo schools.

He added that despite the recall effort, he defends the school board's record.

"We have set measurable academic achievement goals and have held ourselves to them," he said. "We are holding ourselves accountable."

He said the district increased pay for teachers, increased transparency by streaming board meetings, and equalized funding for all public schools.

Parent Stephen Alley said he supports the conservative board members. They voted to add funding for the charter school is daughter attends.

"They're for what's right for everyone, and they need to stay in place," Alley said.

John J. Newkirk, who is secretary of the Jefferson County Board of Education who would be up for this recall if they get enough signatures, released the following statement:

The Board of Education has accomplished a great deal since we were elected 20 months ago. To cite just a few examples, for the first time in years we've raised teacher salaries, and union negotiations have been open to the public and streamed on the internet. For the first time ever, we've ensured each child will be equitably funded regardless of which public school they choose to attend. We've given our community and our principals greater autonomy within their schools, and academic achievement is improving while remediation rates are decreasing. We've also provided the opportunity for free full-day kindergarten to families who need it most, and have funded the construction of an $18 million K-6 school within our high-growth areas. I'm proud to say we've accomplished all of this without incurring debt to the taxpayer and have actually added money to District reserves.

During the last election, our community strongly demanded new focus on improving academic achievement, fair funding, expansion of educational choices, and fiscal responsibility. A recall election could cost the District over half a million dollars, and it would be unfortunate to divert energy, resources, and limited funding outside the classroom and into the political arena. As a Jefferson County graduate myself, I will continue to work to ensure every Jeffco student has access to a world-class education.

Ken Witt also released a statement, saying:

I am proud of the work that we have done on the Jeffco Board, including bringing greater equality to education funding, giving teachers $21 million in raises, opening meetings to the public, bringing free full day kindergarten to every child eligible for free and reduced lunch, and giving the community and principals greater control in their schools, among other achievements. While change is difficult, our students deserve a great education. In the last election, our community loudly demanded a focus on improving academic achievement, fairly funding all public students, and expanding choice. We continue to be committed to those goals and to helping every Jeffco student realize their full academic and personal potential.

The petition kick-off event starts at 6 p.m. Wednesday night at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds Event center.

Fifteen-thousand signatures are needed to each board member in order to hold a recall election.

Those signatures need to be collected in the next 60 days.

Past Story: Parent wants all 5 JeffCo Board seats on the ballot

(© 2015 KUSA)


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