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Adams 14 School District becomes first in state to lose local control due to poor performance

After receiving guidelines from the state, the Adams 14 School District has 90 days to choose an external operator before losing accreditation.

KUSA — The Adams 14 School District in Commerce City has been told to cede local control to a public or private external organization, according to a news release from the Colorado Department of Education.

It is the first time an external organization has ever taken over the full management of a school district in Colorado – but it is something the state can do per current accountability laws.

This is an attempt to improve student outcomes in Adams 14, which according to the Colorado Board of Education has received the lowest two ratings in the state’s accountability system for the past eight years.

Last year, the district was directed to partner with an external organization based out of Arizona called Beyond Textbooks to improve teaching and learning, but despite doing so, Adams 14 still received a failing grade – prompting further action.

The State Department of Education listened to testimony from Adams 14 leaders on Wednesday, and ultimately decided to entirely revoke local control.

Over the next two weeks, the school board will vote on further details about the management agreement. According to the news release, if Adams 14 doesn’t enter into an acceptable contract within 90 days of that order being approved, the district will lose its accreditation.

The state rates schools by a combination of student achievement on tests, dropout rates, scores of college entrance exams and graduation rates.

Adams 14 is a 7,500-pupil district with 13 schools. In 2016, the district was the subject of a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by the former human resources director. In 2014, the U.S Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights issued a report that Adams 14 engaged in discriminatory education and employment practices against Latino employees, students, and parents. More than 80 percent of the district is Latino.

The district’s high school, according to the Colorado Board of Education, will be managed by a district-level external management operator.

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