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At tonight’s DPS Board of Education meeting, we directors will be asked to consider the approval of three innovation proposals for schools in the greater Montbello area.  These schools include an arts program at the Rachel B. Noel building, the elementary DCIS program at Barney Ford, and the DCIS high school program in the Montbello High building.  While I applaud the district’s efforts to bring new programs to the area, the district is ignoring state law regarding the approval and proposal of innovation schools under the Innovation Schools Act, thereby stripping parents and community of their rights to be active and engaged participants of their school communities.

The Act clearly lays out a process for approval of innovation plans, which ensure full collaboration of parents and teachers in the process of revitalizing schools.  According to statute, it is clear that the intent of the Act is that only already existing schools may apply for innovation status.  It does not apply to schools under development, because statute requires an existing school accountability committee and teaching/administrative staff to vote on such proposals before being brought before the Board of Education.

C.R.S. 22-32.5-104 (3): Each innovation plan, whether submitted by a public school or created by a local school board through collaboration between the local school board and a public school, shall include the following information:

(f) Evidence that a majority of the administrators employed at the public school, a majority of the teachers employed at the public school, and a majority of the school accountability committee for the public school consent to designation as an innovation school.

Since the enrollment and choice process for these schools have not been completed, and therefore school accountability committees have not been elected, approval of these innovation school proposals puts the cart before the horse and denies parents the right to be part of school reform initiatives at their children’s schools.

According to the Donnell-Kay report, Profiles of Success: Eight Colorado Schools that are Closing the Achievement Gap, all-stakeholder, collaborative school reform works.  I call upon my colleagues to follow the law and work with me to secure the appropriate curriculum and scheduling waivers from the district and union contract to free these schools’ ability to make a difference for their students, while still preserving parents’ rights to be engaged.  It is time for the parent voice to be engaged and heard in the hard work of school reform.