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Adams 14 files complaint against State Board of Education for voting to remove its accreditation

Adams 14 School District
Posted at 2:52 PM, Jun 28, 2022

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. – The Adams 14 School District has filed a complaint against the Colorado State Board of Education following the board’s May vote to remove the district’s accreditation and begin the process to reorganize.

The complaint, filed in Denver District Court on Tuesday, accuses the Board of abusing its power and challenges what the district called “the unconstitutional manner in which the State Board has applied the Accountability Act (the Act) against” school districts such as Adams 14.

Additionally, the complaint alleges the Board abused its statutory authority and “engaged in arbitrary and capricious conduct,” a news release from the district states.

Further, Adams 14 is also challenging the constitutionality of the State Board's application of the Reorganization Act.

"This Complaint is a line in the sand against an extremely abusive state agency that thumbs its nose at local control," said Joe Salazar, Adams 14 chief legal counsel. “In all my years serving the public and litigating cases, I have never seen a state agency openly and flagrantly ignore Colorado's Constitution in the manner we are seeing from this State Board. Every school district in Colorado should be watching this lawsuit as we are fighting for them and their local control.”

The Classroom Teachers Association (CTA), the largest teacher’s union in the state, also joined the lawsuit as it claims the Board’s order “adversely impacts CTA members and their rights through a collective bargaining agreement between Adams 14 and CTA.”

The May decision from the Board comes after years of low academic performance at Adams 14 — so much so that the State Board of Education was required by law to intervene.

District leadership was tasked with coming up with an improvement plan, which would either be approved or denied by the state board. During a meeting on April 14, the state board voted to send Adams 14 back to the drawing board in terms of how they plan to manage the district moving forward.

The reorganization of the district aligns with one of two recommendations made by a state review panel back in March. The second recommendation — which was to close Adams City High School — was taken off the table during the April 14 meeting.

The process will take more than a year and will include opportunities for community participation, according to the state board. All Adams 14 schools will remain open during the process.

With the lawsuit filed, the State Board is now required to file an answer, Salazar said. The district anticipates that litigation on this case may take more than a year.

"We have received the notification of the legal action. We don’t discuss ongoing legal matters," said Dana Smith, the chief communications officer for the Colorado State Board of Education. "The State Board of Education has followed their obligations to intervene in a struggling district as statute dictates. We look forward to exploring the district’s concerns with the court."