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Douglas County School District cancels class Thursday after teachers call out sick

The call-out comes after the newly-elected conservative school board majority was accused of secretly meeting about forcing out the district superintendent.

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The Douglas County School District (DCSD) has canceled classes on Thursday because more than 1,000 teachers are calling out sick in protest.

"As a result, we have reached the point where the number of absences has impacted our ability to provide a safe and supervised learning environment for students," DCSD said in an email.

All classes pre-school through high school will be canceled, though sports and other events are expected to be scheduled. Parents of students who attend DCSD charter schools are encouraged to check in with their schools.

The call-out comes after the newly-elected conservative school board majority was accused of secretly meeting about forcing out the district superintendent, Corey Wise. The other three board members said those discussions happened in private, which would violate Colorado's open meetings laws.

"Learning about the allegations that are brewing regarding the possible firing of our superintendent Corey Wise -- parents, the community and Douglas County Federation are working collectively to take a stand against these behaviors and actions that are looking to be possibly illegal and would have detrimental effects for students in the classroom," Kevin DiPasquale, president of the Douglas County Federation, told 9NEWS this week.

The Douglas County Federation represents district teachers.

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The teachers' union has planned a day of "Collaborative Action" for Thursday, which involves a rally outside of the "Wilcox Building" at 1 p.m.

DiPasquale acknowledged the concern over kids missing a day of instruction on Thursday, potentially due to the protest.

"So while there is concern for people who may be worried about children missing a day of instruction, I am concerned for that. But I am. I am even more concerned with the long term detriment to our school district and the learning of our district," he said.

In a statement earlier this week, school board President Mike Peterson, who is among the conservative majority, said no action had been taken regarding Wise's contract. 

The board will be discussing Wise's contract in a meeting that begins at 5 p.m. Friday.

Credit: Luis de Leon
The "Wilcox Building" in Castle Rock, an administration building for the Douglas County School District.

Keri Carland, a parent of four students in the school district who serves on the PCA and PTO and is a substitute teacher in the district, said, generally speaking, she wants what is best for students.

"I think I just feel frustrated that there's so much discourse and it's such a 'us versus them' and people just aren't doing what they need to do to work together and to do what's best for the kids in the district," she said. "I certainly appreciate where the teachers are coming from. I think it's been a rough time for them and they feel like their voices aren't being heard. And I get the impression that this is one way that they can really get the point across that they are not OK with what's been happening in the district and they want to be able to have a voice."

Despite all of this, she said she believes in the public school system and has seen firsthand how it's benefited her children.

"Being a substitute teacher and a volunteer in the classrooms, I see the quality of the education these kids are getting. I see how phenomenal these teachers are and how much heart they put into what they do every single day," she said, adding her support for Superintendent Wise.

"I think it's very telling when you have the number of teachers wanting to do what they want to do tomorrow. I think that our teachers are the ones that are in the thick of it every day, and I think that we should listen to what they have to say," she said regarding the planned rally.

The Kids First DCSD group posted on Facebook this week, saying:

"We don't have anymore facts than you all do. However, we are concerned that accusations are being assumed as fact. As supporters, we will assume good intentions and proper behavior, until we see otherwise. 

Even more concerning is that the union is organizing a sickout for Thursday. This is not what is good for kids."

DCSD’s buildings were open for a workday Thursday for staff members who did not submit an absence.

>> Video below: 3 Dougco school board members accuse colleagues of breaking law to push superintendent out

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