LAKEWOOD – The hysteria over Jefferson County School District Cindy Stevenson’s decision to exit early to take another job spurred a flurry of rumors, unleashed anger and a “Call to Action” to steer the destiny of the district – and threats to recall three conservative board members elected in November.
Taking a cue from union organizers who orchestrated protests and rallies to try and defeat conservative candidates running for the Douglas County School Board last year, the Jeffco “Call to Action” meeting Tuesday featured film clips of “The Reformers,” a documentary produced by Brian Malone.
Malone’s film was shown last year to galvanize support for three union-backed candidates in the Douglas County School Board race and enlist new members in the Douglas County Federation of Teachers (DCFT) union, which was nearly defunct after the board severed ties.
Not only did the DCFT union claim it wasn’t involved in that school board election – their favored candidates attempted to distant themselves from the union’s endorsements. Despite the union’s antics, Douglas County voters elected three conservative reform candidates and rejected the union’s challengers in November.
Blurring the line between fact and fiction was evident this week in Jefferson County when some school activists denied there was any union involvement in a protest Saturday at the Jeffco school board meeting and the “Call To Action” meeting Tuesday at Lakewood High School.
At least two similar memos were issued to organize the black clad protestors and their signs Saturday.
“We are requesting that all JCEA (Jefferson County Education Association union) MEMBERS show up at the Ed Center… by 10:30 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday, February 8th),” stated the email.
“Wear black and bring signs that say DON’T DESTROY TRUST, WE DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY, OUR KIDS DESERVE BETTER, and THANK YOU, CINDY.”
The other instructive memo echoed, “Please wear black tomorrow to send the message to the majority on the board that we do not approve of the lack of transparency and disrespect that this group shows for the Jeffco parents, employees and community.”
Lakewood High School principal Ron Castagna blamed the school board majority members Saturday when Stevenson, who tendered her resignation in November, announced she wanted to leave in March to pursue a new position. Stevenson didn’t admit until Saturday that she wanted out of her contract.
“In three months, these folks are dismantling a great and proud school district where kids are embraced and given a chance every day,” Castagna told KUSA 9 News. “They have their agenda and they kept it a secret.”
“Go ahead, bring it on,” said Castagna, adding there will be a fight over the changes.
Castagna swiftly helped organize the “Call To Action” confab Tuesday at Lakewood High School and used a staff member to blast the email to Jeffco elementary, middle school and high school principals.
Jefferson County School Board Watch reported that more than 150 people responded to the Call To Action, which after the fact was described as a meeting “open to the public.”
But it didn’t appear that everyone was welcome.
“There are two people sitting in the corner recording this meeting,” said a person in the audience. “I would like for them to stand up and say who they are.”
Neither of the two women identified themselves, but the website author claimed one was former Jeffco school board member Laura Boggs.
As if panic and paranoia set in, the Jefferson County Board Watch author reeled off a list of fears about repercussions such as “the spin will be that the unions tried to hold a secret meeting.”
“Then there are the intimidation tactics. Take pictures of license plates, get video, ensure (school district) employees see Laura Boggs seeing them. Make employees fearful of potential retribution for publicly disagreeing with this board.”