DENVER – Hours after voters elected four reform candidates to the Douglas County School District board, the reformers vowed to work on unifying the district after a divisive election. That might be an uphill battle – given that the spurned union-backed contenders and some of their supporters are launching more “aggressive” attacks.
Barbra Chase-Burke lost her race to conservative Jim Geddes, but instead of conceding the race and congratulating Geddes, she issued an email Monday threatening “aggressive” action in protest of the election outcome.
“We have lost/will continue to lose our best and brightest teachers due to the result of this DCSD School Board election,” asserted Chase-Burke (who campaigned as Chase).
“Please reply to this email if you are planning to stay and fight as we are working on an aggressive PLAN B,” declared Chase. “We need more of you to STAND UP and give your time (no $$ needed) in order to be successful.”
“Nothing is more important for your kid’s education if you want to keep them in their existing schools,” said Chase, adding that she and her husband Sean Burke believe “education is CRITICAL for our children’s future success.”
In the same email, Chase seemed to laud a student “sit-in” last Friday morning at ThunderRidge High School. She described, “Juniors & Seniors standing quietly in the hallways during 2nd period (and) refusing to go to class in silent protest.”
The so-called “sit-in” might have been initiated by a few students, but it was also promoted by some parents and former DCSD teachers in numerous tweets.
“I have proposed a Student Walk Out!!” tweeted Cassandra Kramer, identified as “hottiemom24” on Twitter. “DCSD Students & Parents do not need to take this!!”
Brian White, a former ThunderRidge High School social studies teacher who left the district after facing widespread scrutiny for what some said was inappropriate class time politicking, jumped on the “Down With DCSD” insurrection bandwagon.
“DougCo students take a stand,” urged White in a tweet. “Make our voices heard. Sit in after 2nd (period) at the upper main hallway.”
The idea had been bounced around the day after the Nov. 5 election. For example, a student identified as Chris Thompson tweeted, “I honestly think we should go on strike and not go to school because what is going on in our district is completely unfair.”
Voters elected the conservative reform slate of candidates Doug Benevento, Meghann Silverthorn, Judi Reynolds and Geddes. Union-endorsed candidates Bill Hodges, Ronda Scholting, Julie Keim and Chase lost their races by several thousand votes.
The election sparked a series of bitter and angry emails, tweets and Facebook comments from the progressive sector that supported the union-backed challengers. Some folks claimed they were moving out of the school district, others predicted teachers would leave.
“I love some of my kids’ teachers too and some of their favorites have left already,” wrote Kramer.
“Teachers can follow the lead and walk out with students, and it would be in their best interests,” added Kramer. “This district can’t fire them all, then where would they be and then how more shitty would that look to the world that is watching DougCo??”
Others have noted that there were numerous applicants for every teaching position open in the school district this year.