Teachers fired, board members resign at Jeffco charter school

9NEWS @ 4. 10/19/2016

KUSA - Parents and students are fuming over the firing of six teachers at Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen, who were escorted out of the school on Tuesday by sheriff’s deputies.

It’s not the only piece of controversy at the charter school.

Last week, seven of eight school board members resigned. Parents blame the school’s director, Dr. Roberta Harrell.

They allege that this has been a problem for a while, and protested the happenings at the school in the parking lot Wednesday morning.

“This has been two years in the making,” Lee Dorkin said. His wife is one of the seven board members who resigned. “So you have a school that’s been run by a board of directors, prior to the most recent board, and has been run by a director that has attempted to take the school in a certain direction, but has done so in a very secretive and hostile manner.”

Dorkin said his wife and the other board members who resigned were trying to get rid of Harrell, only to be met with what they call physical intimidation at board meetings, which is why they say they left.

The board members allege the teacher firings are the latest example of Harrell’s hostility and inability to work with teachers who have been at the school since its inception.

They say the teachers were asked for their input during a public forum, but that what they said didn’t sit well with Harrell.

In a post on the school’s website, she said she values teacher retention, even though she released one of the long-time teachers she referred to.

Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee released a statement on the situation Wednesday afternoon: 

"We are aware some Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen (RMAE) families are very upset.  Our main concern is taking care of our students. We value our relationships with our charter schools and are committed to having the best schools possible. We are offering support to help RMAE work through their issues, but we also have to respect that charter schools are largely under local control.

RMAE is a charter school in the Jeffco Public Schools district. Charter schools, by state law, are governed primarily by their own school policies and board. Jeffco Public Schools has a contract with RMAE defining services, financial structure, and limited oversight.  The district is investigating whether any contract violations or illegal activity has occurred, but at this point neither appears to be the case. It seems the issues at the school are personnel- and policy-related and not under the authority of the school district. Jeffco Public Schools is offering support to help resolve these issues. The goal is to offer an impartial perspective and recommend next steps to work towards a functional, positive environment at RMAE."

9NEWS reached out to Harrell for comment, but has not heard back. She has an open invitation for an interview.

Harrell has been in trouble before. During the highly contentious Jefferson County recall election, she sent an email blast out to parents urging them to vote, as the recall could affect funding.

That’s against district policy – something she received a warning about from Jeffco’s attorney.

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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