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Douglas County school board president resigns during special board meeting

Douglas County School District Board of Education President Mike Peterson
Posted at 9:04 PM, Nov 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-01 11:22:18-05

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Mike Peterson, president of the Douglas County School District Board of Education, announced his resignation during a special board meeting Thursday.

Peterson's term was set to expire in November 2025. His resignation takes effect Friday.

"I've appreciated all the comments, all the criticisms. Maybe you think I've erred a little bit too far on the free speech end, but that's just my preference," he said during Thursday's meeting.

Peterson told the Douglas County News Press he was stepping down because his family was moving out of state.

Peterson's 2-year tenure with the school district has been tumultuous.

Peterson, along with Becky Myers, Christy Williams and Kaylee Winegar, took the district in a decidedly different direction following their election in November 2021. The first policies of the new board were to rescind the district's mask policy and make major changes to its equity policy.

The four board members voted to fire then-Superintendent Corey Wise in February 2022.

Robert “Bob” Marshall, now a state representative for House District 43, filed a lawsuit alleging the board held a series of private one-on-one meetings to discuss replacing Wise. A district judge ruled those meetings violated the Colorado Open Meetings Law, according to our partners at The Denver Post.

Wise then filed discrimination claims with the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment alleging Peterson, Myers, Williams and Winegar unlawfully terminated him due to his advocacy for students with disabilities and youth of color. The school district paid Wise more than $830,000 in April to settle the claims.

In May, board member Elizabeth Hanson resigned, citing concerns about the board's updates to the district's equity policy and the district's financial state. She said the board frivolously spent money that "belongs to classrooms."

In his final comments, Peterson urged the remaining board members to "pick partnership over partisanship."

"Don't wait for it to get bad. You can change this now," he said.

Williams was named the board's next president in a 4-3 vote. Three board members were also sworn in during Thursday's meeting — incumbent Susan Meek and new members Brad Geiger and Valerie Thompson.

Douglas County school board president resigns during special board meeting

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