DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Following days of tension and a equally tense school board meeting on Friday night, the Douglas County Federation criticized the board's decision to remove Douglas County Schools Superintendent Corey Wise. The federation represents teachers within the school district.
"Teachers are not the enemy, and anyone who seeks to portray us as such are the ones who really don't care about putting 'kids first,'" Kevin DiPasquale, DCF President, stated in his written response on Saturday.
Earlier this week, three of the seven board members met to talk about what they believe are potential violations by board members who they claim were privately trying to force Wise out. The four board members in question won board positions in November elections following a campaign called Kids First.
"Just because a leader is loved and respected doesn't mean he has the skills, the vision, the capabilities to lead," said Board President Mike Peterson on Friday night.
A tense moment ensued between members as they voted.
"Myers," Peterson said as he called on Becky Myers.
"No," she replied.
"You're voting no for termination," Peterson questioned.
"I'm sorry, yes," she said.
"Mike, that was her vote. You do not get to come in and coerce her into changing her vote, and if she cannot follow what is happening it not your responsibility to bring her up to speed. Her vote is no," said Elizabeth Hanson.
Some in the audience erupted into cheering and applause.
"I am confirming her vote, thank you," Peterson said before once more looking at Myers to state her vote.
"Yes," she said.
After a brief pause among the group, Myers stated, "Oh, can I go home?"
Students and staff then held a "sick out" earlier this week protesting the alleged actions of the four board members. Those four members ultimately voted to remove Wise.
"It is hard to overestimate the shock wave this callous action sent through the schools and community. Superintendent Wise has worked for the children of Douglas County for decades, guided the District through the toughest time in its history, and always put the needs of the students first. For the new majority to ignore all due process laws and belittle a dedicated employee in such an insensitive way says a lot about the future of our district under their leadership," stated DiPasquale.
Opposing members shared serious concerns about the consequences of the board's vote.
"When you choose to turn over leadership, you are choosing to lose teachers during a teacher shortage that is nationwide," said member Susan Meek.
On Saturday, the federation alluded to something similar.
"Now the current board majority has sent the ominous message that every district employee isn't safe. Further, the message is that employee voices are not valued, and it clearly indicates that employees' extraordinary efforts during the pandemic are long forgotten. Unfortunately, it also says: look for options elsewhere."
Peterson released the following statement to CBS4:
"At a Special Meeting on February 4, the DCSD Board of Education voted to terminate the contract with Superintendent Corey Wise, effective immediately. I recognize this is an emotional time for our community and want you to know I am committed to restoring peace and unity to our school district with a continued focus on educating our children.
In accordance with the district's succession policy, Deputy Superintendents Andy Abner and Danelle Hiatt will serve as acting superintendents for our school district. At a future meeting, the Board will discuss the appointment of an interim or permanent superintendent."
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