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Douglas County teachers say they feel threatened, betrayed after absent teacher names nearly released

douglas county school district teacher educator protests
Posted at 10:33 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 00:40:02-05

PARKER, Colo. — Some Douglas County teachers who wanted their voices heard now say they have a target on their backs.

On Thursday, the Douglas County School District sent an email referencing fliers that had been left left on teacher's cars telling them to "get out." The email said, "While these appear to have been isolated incidents with fliers placed on only a few cars, we want to be clear that we will not tolerate any behavior from anyone that threatens, intimidates or harasses our staff."

But some teachers say they still do not feel safe after the district nearly released the names of those who took off work Feb. 3, on the same day as a protest over the school board’s imminent firing of the district superintendent, in response to a public records request.

"I have the best job on the face of the planet," said Lois Everett, who has worked on and off for DCSD for nearly 20 years. "I have a dream job, but I don't know if I can do it next year. I don't know how much more I can take."

Teachers say this is another incident in the district's drama-filled story. The newly elected school board voted 4-3 to fire then-superintendent Corey Wise. In protest of Wise's imminent firing, hundreds of teachers took off work to protest. This week, the district initially agreed to release the names of the teachers who took off work in response to a Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) request. However, the person who filed the public records request withdrew their request, the district said.

"I am an elementary school teacher and I wanted to curse," said Everett. "I felt scared. I felt threatened. I felt betrayed."

Igor Raykin is an education and civil rights attorney. He saw teachers' concerns on social media and wrote a warning letter to the district, saying, "I want to be clear as day here: if you release those records and a single educator is hurt, I will drag DCSD and all of its toxic board members into court and force them to answer for their conduct."

He says the legality of the CORA request was unclear because it could put teachers' safety in jeopardy.

"The motivation is clear. It's just to harass and intimidate teachers. That's it," said Raykin. "I’m not a miracle worker. I think it was the teachers who were up in arms who were a lot more effective in getting this CORA request removed than anything I did."

Everett says because of the politics and CORA controversy, she will be looking for a job in another school district next school year.

"I tried really hard to stay in my bubble and just worry about the kids, and now they're threatening me," she said. "I really feel like it was retaliation for trying to have my voice heard."