Violation by Charter School RMAE

This just in from our friends at Jeffco United for Action! Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen has violated campaign laws by sending inappropriate and inaccurate information to their families using district resources! That’s a BIG no, no!

Every district administrator knows this and has been trained on this!

 

We’ve sent an email to District Counsel Craig Hess asking how this will be addressed and resolved.  We just checked their website and the newsletter and letter is mentioned but no retraction or correction has been issued! Should be front and center and correction sent out to all families!

http://www.rmae.org/

Per their website:

RMAE Vision

RMAE envisions a community of parents, teachers, students and educational and business leaders working together to create a learning environment that encourages growth in character, academic achievement and the love of learning, resulting in responsible, productive citizens.

Seems to us that the vision should be re-read by administration and board!

—–Original Message—–
From: Shawna <fritzlersm@aol.com>
To: rhess <rhess@jeffco.k12.co.us>; ldahlkem <ldahlkem@jeffco.k12.co.us>; jcfellma <jcfellma@jeffco.k12.co.us>
Sent: Tue, Sep 29, 2015 2:42 pm
Subject: What is being communicated to correct the inappropriate action

Hi Craig

I was just reading the following that I saw on social media. Can you tell me what “appropriate action” consists of and how this is being communicated to the parents at RMAE that the staff violated this policy? Certainly clarification would need to be sent so parents have the important facts relayed that they were told untruths and Jeffco Schools isn’t participating, should not have participated and doesn’t support any campaign and should never have used district resources to do such a thing.

Thanks in advance!
Shawna Fritzler

Here’s the news from Jeffco United for Action:http://jeffcounitedforaction.org/2015/09/schoolviolatesgbee/

Jefferson County, CO – Monday, September 28th, Craig Hess, Chief Legal Counsel for Jeffco Public Schools, notified Jeffco parent Wendy McCord that the district had found staff members of Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen in violation of District Policy GBEE prohibiting staff use of electronic communications to advocate a position on ballot issues or candidates. The policy can be viewed here (click policies and then GBEE).

Below is the original complaint filed by Wendy McCord and an email from Mr. Hess to Mrs. McCord notifying her of the policy violation.

The complaint stems from an email sent by Dr. Roberta Harrell, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen to her parents using school district email urging them to vote no on the recall. The email also discusses how charter school funding for the upcoming year will be in jeopardy if the recall passes. This could not be further from the truth as all of the candidates running for office that are supported by the parents have said they will not undo the current charter funding equalization.

The District did the right thing in finding that this email was political campaigning using district resources which is prohibited under District Policy GBEE.

From: Wendy McCord [mailto:wmccord@alumni.virginia.edu]
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2015 8:50 PM
To: McMinimee Dan M <dmcminim@jeffco.k12.co.us>; Witt Ken <kewitt@jeffco.k12.co.us>; Fellman Jill <jcfellma@jeffco.k12.co.us>; Newkirk John <jnewkirk@jeffco.k12.co.us>; Dahlkemper Lesley <ldahlkem@jeffco.k12.co.us>; juwillia@jeffco.k12.co.us
Cc: Hess Raymond C <rhess@jeffco.k12.co.us>
Subject: Violation of District Policy GBEE by Roberta Harrell, Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen
Dear Dan and Members of the Board of Education,
On Saturday, September 19, 2015 Dr. Roberta Harrell, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen, sent out an email to the parents at her school via School Messenger with a link to a letter from the President of her Board of Directors. This letter contained language that encouraged parents to take action and vote in the upcoming recall elections and urged the parents to support the existing three school board members who had voted in favor of additional charter school funding.
This email clearly violated District Policy GBEE, which states in relevant part, “No staff member shall access, create, transmit, retransmit or forward material or information that . . . IN ANY WAY expresses support for or opposition to the candidacy of any person for nomination, retention or election to public office, or urges others to vote in favor of or against any ballot issue or referred measure.” [emphasis added]
While this email violated District Policy GBEE, it also spread misinformation to parents from a credible school district source. The email included language that the school could be at risk for losing the additional funding they now have in place if the recall is successful. This statement is patently false, as the recall effort has never talked about reducing funding to charter schools. To the best of my knowledge, none of the successor candidates have expressed support for reversing funding equalization.
In addition, the letter linked to an article from a grossly political internet “publication,” Complete Colorado. Per its own “About Us” webpage:
The site was launched on June 1, 2008 by Todd Shepherd who is currently the investigative reporter for the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank based in Denver.  Previous to working at II, Shepherd was an award-winning reporter for NewsRadio 850 KOA.
The site is also co-owned and managed by Justin Longo.  Longo is webmaster at II, and holds a degree in economics from George Mason University.
The use of district resources, including the list of students and the School Messenger system, appears to constitute an in-kind contribution to the “No on Recall” campaign that is currently being undertaken by Americans for Prosperity and Jeffco Students First. It also appears to be supporting these clearly political organizations, which is also unacceptable. This is in addition to the improper use of the Jeffco Public Schools logo by AFP on their recent mailers.
As a stakeholder in Jeffco Public Schools, I expect that the district will NOT take political positions and will NOT use district resources to support political campaigns and organizations, especially ones whose apparent goals include undermining the very essence of public education.
Please advise how the district will remedy this serious breach of District Policy and possibly state/federal laws related to use of district funds for political purposes.
Copied below is the email from Dr. Harrell. Attached to this email is the linked letter from Alan Scheik III.
Sincerely,
Wendy R. McCord
*************************
From: “Roberta Harrell” <rjharrel@jeffco.k12.co.us>
Date: Sep 19, 2015 7:32 PM
Subject: Letter from the BOD President
To: XXXXXX
Cc:
Hello Parents,
I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weekend.  Please take a moment to read the attached letter from BOD President, Alan Scheik
Thank you,
Roberta
Jefferson County School District R 1 would like to continue connecting with you via email. If you prefer to be removed from our list, please contact Jefferson County School District R 1 directly. To stop receiving all email messages distributed through our SchoolMessenger service, follow this link and confirm: Unsubscribe
SchoolMessenger is a notification service used by the nation’s leading school systems to connect with parents, students and staff through voice, SMS text, email, ad social media.
From: Hess Raymond C <RHESS@jeffco.k12.co.us>
Date: Mon, Sep 28, 2015 at 4:47 PM
Subject: RE: Violation of District Policy GBEE by Roberta Harrell, Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen
To: Wendy McCord <wmccord@alumni.virginia.edu>
Cc: McMinimee Dan M <DMCMINIM@jeffco.k12.co.us>
The district has conducted an inquiry into your allegations that a staff members of Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen violated District Policy GBEE, Staff Use of the Internet and Electronic Communications.
At the conclusion of his inquiry, we have determined that the greater weight of the evidence did support a policy violation and therefore, we have taken appropriate action designed to ensure that this behavior does not recur.
Thank you for bring this matter to our attention.
R. Craig Hess
Chief Legal Counsel
Executive Director Employee Relations
Jeffco Public Schools
1829 Denver West Drive, Building 27
Golden, Colorado  80401-0001