Loss of Communications Expertise

Elections have consequences and Jeffco kids continue to lose out.   
In November, the Chief Communications Officer, Lynn Setzer, left Jeffco Schools for a position with another school district.  The small communications team, with only six people, provided our school district with a wealth of support, media knowledge, experience and expertise beyond that of many Colorado districts.  

The award-winning team was recognized in the state for building important community relationships and media contacts that proved beneficial for our district, kids, families and communities. 

In the last month, the communications team lost two more employees with vast communications and public relations experience and knowledge.  News Media Specialist, Melissa Reeves, recently resigned her position.  Communications Manager, Marlene Desmond, has been placed on administrative leave by the district and there are rumors they are trying to terminate her – after 12 years of dedication to Jeffco and our kids. 

When a new Chief Communications Director, Lisa Pinto, started just a few weeks ago, these long-time, dedicated employees described an untrusting atmosphere that replaces one that was committed to being collaborative, transparent, cohesive and productive for students, teachers, staff and schools.   

Recently departed employees describe an environment of fear, intimidation and bullying that has forced many long-serving public employees fearing for their jobs and livelihood and were forced to make the decision to leave Jeffco Schools.

Having seen some new questionable content in the district’s recent Chalk Talk publication seen here: http://jeffcoweb.jeffco.k12.co.us/communications/parent_news/archive/2015/Jan/2015.01.20.html,
We can only wonder how the district will communicate to parents and community members in the future.   
The Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) allows citizens to request documents and information from our public school district that is supported by our tax payer dollars.  There have been so many CORA requests sent to the district over the last year due to so many issues of transparency that has plagued the board and its decisions, that it has overburdened the communications team.  

Recently, 9News education reporter Nelson Garcia reported that Jeffco Schools had opted not to respond to his questions regarding the progress of the $600,000 Classroom Dashboard project.  Apparently the district has still not responded though follow-up questions were asked, giving the communications department another opportunity to respond on behalf of the district.  See his story here:  http://www.9news.com/story/news/education/2015/01/23/9news-raises-questions-600000-project/22249207/

This is a first.  We have always known the communications office to be ethical and transparent, always taking the opportunity to speak to media.

Now that even more dedicated and professional school district employees are leaving, who will fill these positions?  Will they be qualified media, communications and public relations specialists with experience in education or will the positions be filled with more individuals who lean towards a certain political party?
Proper and honest communications with our parents and community members in Jeffco is an extremely important and highly-valued asset.  Will we receive truthful communications or will Jeffco Schools go the route of Dougco and issue propaganda, resulting in lawsuits?
Support Jeffco Kids and our communities are grateful to Ms. Reeves and Ms. Desmond, as well as Ms. Setzer and Ms. Lorie Hirose who left previously, for their dedication to our schools, teachers, staff and community.  

The many wonderful stories they have reported and crisis events they managed over the years  brought transparency and value to our school district and communities.  They offered professionalism, collaboration, team work and trust that benefited our kids.    

Thank you for your many years of service to our Jeffco community! We wish you well and will miss you greatly!