On Thursday, January 12th, in a 5-0 vote, the Board of Education unanimously voted to begin a national search for a Superintendent to serve Jeffco Schools after an extensive and very honest discussion.
After two previous meetings on the topic of the Superintendent position as well as the Superintendent evaluation process in September, the Board had a vigorous discussion yet again. Board Member Ali Lasell mentioned that she was proud of the fact that none of the board members (noting that they are comprised of 4 unaffiliated and 1 party-registered individuals) came to the table with an agenda, personal or political.
Board Member Susan Harmon noted that she struggled with how to address distrust and public perception in the current situation. Ms. Harmon is right on target with this issue.
As mentioned in one article on local media, there were speakers as well as letters of support for the superintendent from some community members, one of which included a statement (not mentioned by local media) about the Mafioso in public comment that left the majority in the crowded board room looking quite bewildered. Another came from a huge supporter and donor to the recalled WNW camp.
However, the commentary in letters to the board, social media discussions, as well as public comment requesting a transparent process and notations of trust issues far outweighed support for the current superintendent.
Dr. Cecelia Lange, a retired Jeffco taxpayer and public education advocate, eloquently spoke at the meeting requesting a transparent process that the community was denied two and a half years ago, as did several other upstanding members of the Jeffco community.
C.R.S 24-6-402 (3.5) states: A search committee of a state public body or local public body shall establish job search goals, including the writing of the job description, deadlines for applications, requirements for applicants, selection procedures, and the time frame for appointing or employing a chief executive officer of an agency, authority, institution, or other entity at an open meeting. The state or local public body shall make public the list of all finalists under consideration for the position of chief executive officer no later than fourteen days prior to appointing or employing one of the finalists to fill the position. No offer of appointment or employment shall be made prior to this public notice. Records submitted by or on behalf of a finalist for such position shall be subject to the provisions of section 24-72-204 (3) (a) (XI). As used in this subsection (3.5), “finalist” shall have the same meaning as in section 24-72-204 (3) (a) (XI). Nothing in this subsection (3.5) shall be construed to prohibit a search committee from holding an executive session to consider appointment or employment matters not described in this subsection (3.5) and otherwise authorized by this section.
Each Board Member noted their frustration with having such a personal discussion about an employee in a public setting and it was uncomfortable from the perspective of an audience member as well.
We certainly believe that it was also a difficult process for the superintendent to sit through in a public meeting but Mr. McMinimee’s statement to the Denver Post that “he was disappointed with the way the Board of Education had handled his employment” is not fair to the Board who has been transparent and acted with extreme integrity in the process.
It was very clear that every member of the Board had thought carefully about this issue, understanding their role and fiduciary duty to the school district, while also realizing that employment situations are attached to a real person as well as a family who will be impacted by their decision. This was not a task taken lightly.
Though misleading statements had been provided to the media over the past month, the Board stated repeatedly that they had not made a decision during the two previous discussions, both of which were witnessed by the very qualified attorney from Caplan and Earnest.
The superintendent contract expires on June 30th, 2017 and the Board has a fiduciary obligation to address the superintendent contract. Whether one disagrees with their decision or not, the end of the contract date is one they inherited from the recalled Board and requires the Board of Education to address the topic. The Board would have been neglectful of the district to not address an ending contract.
Mr. McMinimee had signed up to be a speaker during public comment as well but ended up not speaking. One can only wonder what this might have been about, especially based on the quotes that have been given to the media. However, we appreciate that Mr. McMinimee remained professional at the meeting and we recognize how difficult it must have been to sit through that discussion as well as the remainder of the meeting.
Bottom line, all 5 Board Members acted professionally and displayed extreme integrity in this very difficult process.
Thank you Ali Lasell, Amanda Stevens, Brad Rupert, Ron Mitchell and Susan Harmon. You put Jeffco Schools and 86,000 students first, again showing that you Support Jeffco Kids.
Please don’t forget to write our Board and thank them for their efforts to do the right thing, no matter how difficult the situation. Their work is a difficult, unpaid, and thankless task. They need your support. http://www.supportjeffcokids.org/jeffco-board-of-ed/