A group of Jefferson County parents announced their intention to try to recall three conservative school board members in Colorado’s second largest district Friday. They want to recall board chair Ken Witt, and members John Newkirk and Julie Williams.
One of the stated reasons for the recall is the board majority's consideration of reviewing the new Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum, which prompted waves of student protests in the suburban Denver district last year.
The new version of the U.S. History test focused on topic such as slavery, racism and the treatment of Native Americans and racism.
The JeffCo school board wrote a proposal to review the U.S. History curriculum. A draft of that proposal written by board member Julie Williams set much more conservative criteria for material. Students objected to the proposed resolution as censorship.
But Jeffco United for Action also alleges that members met in secret and wasted taxpayer money, including paying the superintendent they hired $280,000.
“Between the broken promises to voters, violating open meeting laws and privacy laws and wasting taxpayer money, I as a Jeffco voter felt it was time to stand up and put an end to the chaos that has overtaken our school board," said Michael Blanton, a JeffCo father and attorney working on the recall effort.
If the language is approved, the group would have 60 days to gather 15,000 signatures for each of the three school board members it is trying to oust.
In a statement, board member Julie Williams noted what she calls the current board's accomplishments, including increasing the top pay scale for teachers, expanding school choices like "STEM, Classical, and Core Knowledge" programs, and implementing student-based budgeting which gives principals more power over school budgets.
In a statement board chair Ken Witt says he stands by his voting record:
“I am proud of the work that we have done on the Jeffco Board, including bringing greater equality to education funding, giving teachers $21 million in raises, opening meetings to the public, bringing free full day kindergarten to every child eligible for free and reduced lunch, and giving the community and principals greater control in their schools, among other achievements,” he said. “I recognize that change is difficult, but our students deserve a great education.”