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Douglas County school board takes first steps in superintendent search during 7-hour meeting

Douglas County School District
Posted at 1:16 AM, Feb 17, 2022

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The Douglas County School District Board of Education took its first steps in the process to find a new superintendent during a 7-hour meeting Wednesday evening.

The meeting agenda featured action items regarding the proposed hiring process and timeline, job description and questions for applicants. However, the board only came to an agreement on the job description and its posting date.

The job will be posted Thursday, the board decided. The board also decided to not publicly discuss questions for applicants in order to prevent candidates from having access to said questions.

The board will discuss details of the hiring process and timeline again during its scheduled meeting Tuesday, Feb. 22. Under Colorado law, a school board may not appoint someone to the superintendent position until 14 days after announcing the finalists.

The board's conservative majority cited need for stability as the reason for a quick turnaround, while the board's minority called the process rushed.

There was no public comment during the meeting that resulted in the firing of Corey Wise. That was not the case for Thursday's meeting, which began with a three-hour public comment period.

The period was mostly dominated by community members who chastised the board's decision to fire Wise.

"This board firing Corey Wise, ignoring the wishes of a majority of teachers in the district and refusing to hold public comment on the matter is evidence of how little you value teachers in Douglas County and, in turn, how little you value students," said a community member.

There were several community members who praised the board's decision, calling it a step in the right direction.

"We elected you in November to make change in the district, and I want to thank you for doing so," said another community member. "Change is very hard for some, for everyone really, and it seems that those who are against you have pulled out all the stops and are willing to destroy our kids' education to stop this board from doing what is in the best interests of our students and teachers."

Several community members stated concerns with the board's proposed hiring process timeline. Some even accused the board of having a superintendent candidate already in mind. A name that was mentioned was Erin Kane, executive director of schools for American Academy. She previously served as interim-superintendent for DCSD from 2016 to 2018, according to her biography on the American Academy's website.

Following public comment, director Susan Meek asked for each board member to disclose if they already had a particular candidate in mind. Board president Mike Peterson said he did call Kane a few weeks ago and asked about her willingness to apply for a superintendent position if one were available.

"A few weeks ago, I did actually call former interim-superintendent Kane and asked about her willingness, if there was a position would she be interested and willing to apply," Peterson said. "She did say if there was a position, she would be willing to apply, and I thanked her for that. I think she would be a good candidate, but I am also open to looking at other folks."

In a statement to American Academy families Thursday, Kane confirmed Peterson had asked her to consider the position. She said she was honored to have been asked.

“The hiring process has only just began, so the speculation in the media and on social media is extremely premature, to say the least – an entire process has to take place,” she said. “As always, I will be as transparent as possible with our American Academy community.”

The board did mention the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request for the names of teachers and staffers who asked off work Feb. 3, on the same day as a protest over the school board’s imminent firing of Wise. Peterson said the district would not be releasing the names at this time.

Peterson also addressed the letters that were left on teachers' cars at two different Douglas County schools, calling them upsetting.

"This is no way to move forward as a district," he said. "Our teachers should be respected and supported for the work they do for our students every day, and we hope the community can come together in support of our teachers.

The meeting adjourned just after midnight. To watch the full meeting, click here.