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Adams 14 sues state over reorganization order

The lawsuit alleges the Board of Education abused its power when it ordered the district to reorganize last month.

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — Adams County School District 14 filed a lawsuit against the state Board of Education on Tuesday. The lawsuit alleged the board abused its power when it ordered the district to reorganize last month

"Here in Colorado, we’re one of six states that has local control for our public school districts, and this particular state board, unlike any other state board before, it has intruded on that local control," Adams 14 attorney Joseph Salazar said Wednesday. "I just don’t think that the state board members, at least some of those state board members, were experienced or smart enough to realize the downstream effect of that order."

Adams 14, which serves about 6,000 students in the Commerce City area, has been struggling with its accreditation rating since 2010, and was previously ordered to work with an outside manager to turn student performance around. In January, the school district fired that consulting company, citing a "pattern of misconduct."  

In April, the state board heard from the school district, as well as an independent review board, on recommendations for how to move forward. The school district suggested they work with a different management company, and the board asked the district to come back in May with a detailed plan outlining the responsibilities of that partner.

"We did everything that the state board of education asked us to do after the April 14th meeting, and we did it working alongside [Colorado Department of Education] officials," Adams 14 attorney Joseph Salazar said back in May, when the state board decided to start the process of reorganizing the district. 

The reorganization plan can include consolidating with another district, having other districts absorb certain schools or dissolving the district completely. 

"I imagine we might see a drop in our student population directly attributed to this May 24th, 2022 ruling," Salazar said on Wednesday. "Their job is to help us educate our kids, and that’s not what they’re doing here." 

The State Board of Education told 9NEWS it was aware of the legal action. 

"We don't discuss ongoing legal matters," the board said in a statement. "The State Board of Education has followed their obligations to intervene in a struggling district as statute dictates. We look forward to exploring the district's concerns with the court."

"They need to be put back in their place which is very general supervision over school districts and not getting into the minutia of what it takes to run a school district," Salazar said. "If they just leave us alone and mind their own damn business we’ll get the work done."

The Adams 14 teachers union also joined the school district in the lawsuit. Salazar stated the state board of education's order directly impacts the collective bargaining agreement the teachers union has with the district.

RELATED: Adams 14 reorganization process approved by board of education

RELATED: State board removes Adams 14's accreditation, starts reorganization process

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