Jeffco Schools Superintendent Quits Contract

February 10, 2014

Cindy Stevenson ending contract to lead Jefferson County schools.

Cindy Stevenson ending contract to lead Jefferson County schools.

Hundreds of union activists disrupted a Jefferson County School Board meeting Saturday in response to superintendent Cindy Stevenson’s request that she be released early from her contract to accept another job.

Stevenson announced in November she planned to leave her position after the current school year, but accepted a job this week with the Colorado Association of School Executives and wanted her contract terminated earlier.

However, some of the 250 Stevenson supporters who showed up for the staged protest and disrupted the meeting accused the pro-reform board of forcing out the superintendent.

That’s not quite how Stevenson described her decision. In a Tweet to her followers, Stevenson said she does not feel respected by the board and is therefore unable to do the job for which she is paid more than $200,000 annually.

“I can’t lead and manage because I am not respected by this board. I can’t make decisions. This board does not respect me,” Stevenson said on Twitter.

“I have approached the board and I will be gone by the end of the month. I can’t manage this district with this board,” Stevenson’s Tweet said.

The disruption forced the school board overseeing the state’s largest school district to suspend the meeting early before budget matters could be discussed.

Union supporters held signs that read “Respect” and  “Team Work”, unaware of the irony as they screamed at board members, Revealing Politics reported.

“It looked like a mob scene with nearly 200 angry and bitter union activists flooding a Jefferson County School Board meeting this morning,” Colorado Peak Politics reported.

“Unfortunately, the unions have tried to spin this as Stevenson being forced out and Stevenson, all too willing to oblige, told the media that she ‘can’t manage this district with this board.’ What a pathetic way to end her tenure – with her pettiness showing,” Colorado Peak Politics said.

Board President Ken Witt told the Denver Post they would honor Stevenson’s request to finish her contract prematurely.

“The fact is she approached the board and asked to be let out of her contract early,” Witt said. “I certainly never contacted her and said, ‘I want you to leave.’ We are, however, very much willing to honor that desire to be released early. It allows Cindy and the district to move forward,” Witt told the Post.

Stevenson’s abrupt resignation comes as school-choice reformers and union stalwarts square off in two of the state’s largest school districts: Jefferson County, with 84,000 students, and Douglas County, with 61,000.

In 2012, the Douglas County School Board declined to renew the contract of its union, an AFL-CIO affiliate, and has since witnessed labor-fueled protests similar to Saturday’s melee in Jefferson County.

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3 Responses to Jeffco Schools Superintendent Quits Contract

  1. Brian McFarlane
    February 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    “Stevenson announced in November she planned to leave her position after the current school year,…”

    Seems she prematurely concluded she could not work with this board? The new members were voted in, in November … how could she know when she hadn’t yet worked with them? I don’t know the details of the situation, it sounds like a difference of views and the voters spoke on what views they preferred.

  2. Shredder
    March 4, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    Bye bye Cindy. Go home and bake cookies.

  3. Jeffco Mom
    March 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    Replying to Brian McFarlane, yes, your take would be mine if I hadn’t been able to follow the activities occurring during that time. An example of the problem is where the board as a whole at their December retreat determined that the STEM program, a choice program BTW that was requested by the school last year and mid-implementation, should continue so that it could roll out in time for choice enrollment, the board chair determined a month later that he didn’t want to have the program proceed. When it was pointed out to him that the board had spoken and that, while individual perspectives may differ, the board as a whole directs the Superintendent, he tried to stop the program from going forward anyway.

    To your point about voters speaking, yes, with about a 30-40% turnout in an offyear election, a majority of 60-70% of those voted in favor of the new members who were endorsed as a block by the Jeffco Republican Party. However, if we look at total voters in the county, that certainly is not a mandate (there is some math involved here, but not too bad) and there are folks who have publicly said that they voted for the group based on the JRP endorsement who are dismayed by what they are now seeing.

    Another example would be the board chair determining he would like to send a letter to all staff to summarize the Superintendent’s decision to resign early. His reasoning was that a board policy allowed him to do this on behalf of the board. However, when he asked a fellow board member to read the policy allowed, it became clear the policy was directed toward media, not staff. I believe he and his new colleagues will work to change that, but I would prefer that board members do their homework before attending a meeting rather than looking silly at a meeting. The points made at the meeting were that a board has ONE employee – the CEO/Superintendent. The purpose of the board is to direct that CEO/Superintendent, not to micromanage staff or individual issues within the district.

    A positive note, is that the ENTIRE board has set goals for the year they all can agree on. In my view, this is their most important task. However, without a superintendent for the largest employer in Jeffco, it is unlikely Jeffco will be able to meet the goals they have set.


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