We want the Jeffco BoE to reconsider the announcement of Daniel McMinimee as the sole superintendent finalist. We request that the board reexamine the candidate pool and announce 3-4 new finalists.
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We, the concerned citizens, voters, and members of the Jeffco community, petition the Jeffco Board of Education to rescind their decision to announce only one superintendent finalist, Daniel McMinimee. This is not due to his quality as an applicant. Rather, it has become apparent to us that the superintendent search was not completed in a manner that would result in objectively finding the best candidate for the job in a fair, transparent, and accountable manner. In our opinions, the board majority has placed their own personal biases over the needs of this district and the community. Please understand that we do not make this accusation lightly. We have come to this conclusion by reviewing the following data on the matter:
1. Since 2013, there have been at least 17 superintendents hired in the state of Colorado. We found records that included the school districts of Eagle County, Sargent, Valley Schools, Akron, Aurora, Fremont RE-3, Weld RE-3J, Poudre, Gilpin, East Grand, South Routt, Estes Park, Pueblo, Frenchman, Hayden, West Grand, and Moffat County RE-1.
2. In these school districts, the respective boards selected at least 3 finalists. Many picked four finalists. Once the multiple finalists were publicly announced, additional time was invested by both the boards and the communities to give these candidates their due consideration. Together, the boards and communities collaborated to fully understand all of the talented candidates anddetermine which finalist would be the best fit for their district’s children and community.
3. The majority of the superintendents were selected by unanimous boards or boards with a single dissenter.
4. As far as we can tell, most boards had fewer applicants than Jeffco’s superintendent search did. The flyers from Ray and Associates for the superintendent position also stated a generous salary range of around $280,000 to attract talent. Due to these factors, it is extremely likely that Jeffco’s pool of candidates is much stronger than the candidate pools of the majority of these school districts. We believe that the pool must contain several highly competitive applicants, including Mr. McMinimee.
5. Ray and Associates stated that they found that superintendents who were unanimously agreed on by boards usually tended to work out better. The company’s suggested timeline recommended that the week after the semifinalists were interviewed, the board should, “Interview finalists (2nd round). Community and stakeholders provide feedback on finalists.” Their documents that were made public never mentioned only bringing 1 finalist to the public. As such, we take this to mean that Ray and Associates would not recommend that the Board of Education provide the public with only one finalist.
In our opinion, by providing only one finalist on a 3-2 split decision, the board majority has acted not only against common sense, but also against the advice of Ray and Associates and the thinking of other school boards in Colorado. It is arrogant to assume that this board is more experienced and knowledgeable about how to properly hire a superintendent than its peers or the company it hired to facilitate this action. Rather, this decision has proven to us that the board majority had no intention of objectively giving all the candidates a fair shot. We are very disappointed that the board has failed to give the superintendent search process the respect and due diligence it deserves. We also feel that this is disrespectful to Mr. McMinimee as it puts him in a situation that doesn’t allow him to prove himself compared to his peers, and it introduces him to the community in a way that is unfair to him and all of Jeffco.
We therefore request that the Jeffco Board of Education chooses 3-4 new finalists and exclude Mr. McMinimee from further consideration. We would have preferred to still include Mr. McMinimee, but it is apparent that this board can not objectively evaluate him compared to the other candidates due to its bias. We request that you discuss this at the May 27th board meeting and place it on your agenda for a vote at the next public board meeting on June 5th, in accordance with GP-02. We ask the entire Jeffco Board of Education to come together and unanimously select a superintendent from this group, just as Ray and Associates had recommended. Why pay a search firm over $40,000 only to ignore their advice?
We are also aware that Mr. Witt, either alone or in conjunction with Mr. Newkirk and Mrs. Williams, has unilaterally made decisions outside of board meetings, and in multiple instances has also failed to address these matters in a public meeting first, or even with the minority board members. This includes:
1. Creating a contract to hire Mr. Miller (No details of this contract were ever discussed before the 3-2 vote to hire him. This vote was a direct violation of GP-02, “10.The Board will not take a position on discussion agenda items the first time such items are placed on the agenda for Board consideration.” A board attorney wasn't discussed at a prior board meeting. Also, notice was given to only three board members for the purpose of interviewing Mr. Miller. Requests for a review of Mr. Miller’s work and his contract have been denied multiple times.)
2. Creating a superintendent transition plan without including the minority board members
3. Giving feedback to district negotiators about a signed tentative agreement instead of discussing this at a board meeting with all members of the Board of Education and the public present
4. Pertaining to the meeting on May 27,2014 we object to the following decisions made without the consultation of the full Board of Education:
-Changing the policy for individuals speaking at the board meeting multiple times, when Mr. Witt should have honored the standard board policies regarding individual time limits from the start.
-Limiting discussion to 45 minutes, effectively allowing only 45 people to speak
-Intentionally opening up the signup for this discussion at 8AM last Friday. This effectively made it impossible for many people to participate, including teachers, students, and parents who have to commute after dropping off their children. We strongly object to this attempt to silence and discriminate against members of this community. Every person in Jeffco deserves to have their voice heard, whether you agree with them or not.
These transgressions are in direct violation of board policy GP-08: intentionally misleading or misinforming other board members and maintaining hidden agendas. We demand that these types of actions immediately cease and desist.
Finally, we feel that we need to stress that this board’s duties are to faithfully serve the entire community of Jefferson County, and it is essential that the board doesn’t pursue an agenda that is influenced by outside parties. Specifically, we take exception to Mrs. Williams Facebook post on May 22nd, which included the following:
1. “Be ready at 8:00 or your voice might not be heard and we will be drowned out by the progressives!”
2. “The reform minded board members and Dan McMinimee need your support today! We are coming under extreme fire and community support will make a huge difference. Be aware that the anti-reformers will do ANYTHING to make us loose this fight.”
3. “Remember- all eyes are on Jeffco and what we do will not only make a difference in Jeffco but the state and the nation! We need to continue to Stand Strong!”
This is a violation of GP-07 (“Board members should represent the interests of the citizens of the school district. This accountability to the whole district supersedes any conflicting loyalty to other advocacy or interest groups, or citizens of a director district and membership on other boards or staffs. It also supersedes the personal interest of any Board member who is also a parent of a student in the district.”). The entire board needs to fully understand that there is no “us or them.” Anyone who has an opinion should be allowed to speak to the board about any relevant matter. Silencing anyone or any part of this community is unacceptable. We are all here to address how to enrich the lives of Jeffco’s children. Your duty is not to push an agenda on behalf of a person or special interest group. Your duty is to objectively look at how we can improve the education of our community. Comments and views like this divide our district and can’t help the board accomplish this goal.
In closing, we request that Mr. Witt, Mr. Newkirk, and Mrs. Williams ceases to continue any other actions that further divide Jeffco. The board’s image has been severely tarnished due to a lack of respect for our community. You are going to be held accountable by all of Jefferson County for your actions, and we expect transparency and honesty to be the cornerstone of your actions. They aren’t just talking points for grandstanding. You all have the potential and ability to provide this district with leadership and fortitude if you so choose. We humbly ask the entire board that you do everything in your power to repair the rifts that have occurred and show our community’s children how reasonable and responsible people can behave to work towards the common good of educating and enriching Jeffco’s children. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Disclaimer: This petition is not a legal document. It is a sincere request from the community members of Jefferson County to the Jeffco Board of Education. We respectfully ask that the BoE listen to it and address our concerns.
This petition is open to any stakeholder of the Jefferson County Community.
Petition written by Michael Clark, a Jeffco voter who voted for Mr. Witt and Mr. Newkirk.
This petition was edited to clarify who is eligable to sign this petition.
Image Credit: The original image can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/notbrucelee/8658678244/in/photolist-ec8ZnW-aSP1Zx-4Z94pK-5i7LYH-2UFKCh-dbWAfa-9fTRcr-en8Kaz-9gFMkx-9wWSVA-8o1zx9-8gxtGK-6MfnYW-a3yesx-7z8Jk4-cgvHqY-dt2amt-enHtdu-en5upx-enHwKy-en8FWP-en8MFc-enE655-en5xKB-5qMTEe-bWCqhr-4wGh7f-8j3RgR-aqFKy-apeFGH-8iL7gz-9yAoav-dni4cx-8JW1uZ-8JW1qF-bkrBbB-83RSHC-7w5fCw-aby7vH-aby7kx-bwCBcN-7YLgj7-7YH176-dUC8Mt-dUMR3j-8gxsor-7ZkWpL-aLc4Gz-7ZhHsT-9VWicC/.
The license is available here: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode
The image used for this petition was created by the user justgrimes, a member of flickr. The only change made to this image was the addition of the quote by John Adams at the bottom.
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