Our resident J.D., M.O.M., Wendy McCord, has shared with us her letter to Vince Carroll with the Denver Post.
Dear Mr. Carroll,
I am writing in connection with your article a few months ago, found online at: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_25322630/carroll-ken-witt-jeffco-school-board-president-without
I am wondering what your thoughts are regarding Witt’s “horns” now that he and the other two new members of the Board majority have conveniently named only one superintendent finalist. Which means the public will never know anything about any of the other candidates (likely the intended result). Mr. Witt has said, “Dan McMinimee has deep Jeffco roots; he is the finalist because he is the best candidate.” This statement is found on his Facebook page, Witt for Jeffco Schools; this is his reply to a “Recent Posts by Others.”
In addition, Mr. Witt told you, “I think it is important that we work with the organizations that teachers are part of … so I’m happy to work with our association.” Did you know that after his bargaining team entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the JCEA’s bargaining team near the end of last week, Mr. Witt had staff send out an email changing several of the key terms of the MOU? My understanding is that this communication was made in violation of the terms of the mediation to which both parties had agreed.
Mr. Witt’s “stated goals” are a far cry from what he and his “team” are actually implementing in Jefferson County. Transparency and accountability are buzzwords he, Newkirk and Williams spout, but nothing in their behaviors in any way suggests they take these themes seriously.
Transparency and accountability would require that Witt let the community scrutinize at least a few candidates for superintendent so that we can conclude for ourselves that the $40K+ that the Board spent on a nationwide search wasn’t squandered, only to hire a local white male, “with deep Jeffco roots,” who appears to be largely unknown on a national level. He certainly lacks the qualifications and experience that Dr. Stevenson had. For someone as focused on “data-driven decisions” as Mr. Witt, it seems a bit curious that the community is completely deprived of any data from which to determine if Mr. McMinimee was, in fact, the “best candidate.”
Additionally, we may never know whether or not there was discrimination in the superintendent selection, since only one candidate was made a finalist. Ray and Associates told the Board that “diversity was a very common theme as we worked through the groups.” In response, Mr. Witt told the public, “Quite honestly, I’m not interested in bringing the cultural diversity up into the requirements.” Even after Ms. Dahlkemper and Ms. Fellman made it clear that the public and they both thought it was important, Mr. Witt refused to acknowledge the ability to lead diverse groups in the requirements for a new superintendent. With Mr. McMinimee’s selection, we can see why Mr. Witt was so intent on keeping diversity out of the picture.
Transparency and accountability would require that Witt (and his cohorts) truly empower his bargaining team with the authority to enter into a real agreement with the JCEA. His failure to do so constitutes a lack of good faith bargaining under the National Labor Relations Act. And it definitely doesn’t jive with his oft-quoted comments regarding the importance of teachers and his willingness to work with their association. It was this lack of proper authorization that led the JCEA to declare an impasse during open negotiations after several meetings where it became evident that the bargaining team was not, in fact, authorized to bargain in good faith with the JCEA.
At the very least, transparency and accountability require a board to follow their own policies and to comply, in all respects, with laws applicable to them. At last count, I had identified violations (often repeated) of 12 board and district policies and 2 state laws. I have pointed out my concerns to the Board majority, and I either receive no reply or meaningless drivel. That’s not transparency and accountability. These are the actions of a Board President and majority that believe they are accountable to no one.
I think Mr. Witt’s horn’s are quite obvious.
Wendy R. McCord, J.D., M.O.M.