Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova was named as the sole finalist for the position of Denver Public Schools superintendent after a Thursday meeting. Tom Boasberg, the previous superintendent, announced he was stepping down in July after nearly 10 years on the job.
"I think the selection process was a sham. I think it was rigged from the beginning," parent Amy Carrington said.
Carrington has two small children with plans on attending Denver Public Schools for years to come. She tried to attend all the meetings on the superintendent search with hopes of providing input as the district searched nationwide. The DPS communications department said the district spent $161,375.13 on the search only to end up with one finalist, the current deputy superintendent.
"This is not okay to have one finalist, especially with so much the look of impropriety," Carrington said.
School Board Vice President Barbara O'Brien said the board considered 41 serious candidates and Cordova checked all the boxes as a Hispanic Denver native, former teacher, and principal.
"Two weeks before Thanksgiving, we spent 21 hours interviewing candidates alone. I mean the hours we have put into this," O'Brien said. "We had about 4,500 citizens of Denver, students, and teachers come to meetings and fill out a survey."
Carrington believes Cordova poses a conflict of interest. Cordova's husband, Eric Duran, is an investment banker involved in charter school finance.
"It's no secret that they are promoters of charter schools, closing neighborhood schools and putting in charters," Carrington said.
O'Brien said Eric Duran's firm has not worked with any Denver Public Schools in 10 years.
"The firm and Eric have pledged that if Susana is appointed as superintendent, they won't do any business with Denver Public Schools. We are diligent about not having a conflict of interest," O'Brien said.
The school board voted 5-2 to make her the sole finalist, putting Cordova into the third and final round of candidacy to become superintendent. The board will make its final decision Dec. 17. If she's approved, Cordova will become the first Latino to serve as superintendent.
There will be a 14-day community engagement phase for Cordova before the school district can announce a new superintendent. She was one of three people who had advanced in the job application process but the other two withdrew their candidacy (one for confidentiality reasons and the other for personal reasons, per DPS).
Cordova was first named interim superintendent in 2016 when Boasberg took a brief leave of absence from the position. Since Boasberg stepped down, Dr. Ron Cabrena has been serving as interim superintendent since Oct. 20. He did not put his name up for consideration for the full-time job.
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According to DPS, Cordova has taught for more than 20 years at all levels of primary school and is a lifelong Denver resident. She was even a student of DPS when she was a child. She was an assistant principal at Bryant-Webster Elementary for a year before becoming principal of Remington Elementary.
She attended the University of Denver and got an English degree and then her master's in curriculum and instruction/education from CU and was awarded an honorary doctorate in education from DU.
If you want to find out about the upcoming public hearing process and more on the superintendent search, click here: supersearch.dpsk12.org.
Carrington has lost trust in the school board.
"It's not just about my kids," Carrington said. "It's about all of our kids."
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