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3 Douglas County School Board Members Accuse Rest Of Board Of Breaking Colorado Law By Privately Plotting To Force Out Superintendent

(CBS4) - Three members of Douglas County's School Board held a meeting Monday night to bring out what they believe are potential violations by board members who they claim are trying to force superintendent Corey Wise out. The three members held what they termed a noticed meeting that the four other board members did not attend.

DougCo Schools New Super (Corey Wise, from DCSD)
Corey Wise (credit: Douglas County)

"This is a significant impact to our community," said board member Elizabeth Hanson at the meeting. "No matter how divided our community is, I sincerely hope that we can agree as a community that our superintendent that has given 26 years of his life to our district should receive a basic level of decency and of process."

The four board members won board positions in elections in November in a slate called Kids First. It followed months of disputes in the district over things like masking requirements in schools. The remaining three members, David Ray, Elizabeth Hanson and Susan Meek say they were contacted by school board leaders, President Mike Peterson and Vice President Christy Williams, and informed that they had given superintendent Wise an ultimatum last week.

"President Peterson informed me that he had met with, along with Kristy Williams, that morning with superintendent Wise and had given him the option to resign or let him know that the board would be moving forward with termination," said Hanson. "She and Mike met with Corey that morning and that they had requested that he consider immediately resigning and that there were four directors that were prepared to move forward with replacing him if he chose not to resign," said Ray.

If the four had discussed the removal of Wise, Colorado's Open Meetings law may have prohibited such a move.

The law states: "All meetings of a quorum, or three or more members of a local public body, whichever is fewer, at which any public business is discussed or at which any formal action may be taken are declared to be public meetings open to the public at all times."

A meeting the statutes state, include, "Any kind of gathering, convened to discuss public business, in person, by telephone, or by other means of communication."

Hanson said she would be pursuing a complaint because it was an ethical obligation.

"I think it's helpful to understand that the proper way this should have been handled is through a noticed board meeting where it was disclosed to the public that the board had a personnel matter than needed to be discussed."

Only one of the four board members who did not attend replied to attempts to contact them.

"I will be in a finance meeting at church so I will not be on the Zoom meeting," wrote board member Becky Meyers in an email.

Later during an interview, Ray said their objections to the board's moves was not sour grapes over the November election.

"I mean, and I say that emphatically because three of us didn't weren't running for election."

But Ray noted that the new board members had backed off some of their initial push for changing school policy. "For instance, they announced in their first meeting they wanted to repeal the equity policy ... then they walked that back and said no."

But Hanson was adamant during the meeting about drawing a line on the actions of the other board members.

"I felt like I had a really limited course of action available and made the decision to participate in this conversation rather than to remain silent and potentially be complicit in a pretty blatant violation of Colorado law."

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