Yesterday I chose to be be sworn in and seated on the Denver Public Schools school board before the other incoming school board members. I took this action not out of any disrespect to Michelle Moss, my predecessor, but because it was important to take a stand for transparency and the genuine community concern about the controversial issues facing the children of Denver. Colorado statutes state that an elected school board member can be sworn in as soon as the election has been certified by the Clerk and Recorder of Denver County. The Denver School Board election was certified on November 19, 2009.
Lake Middle School community members asked for the decision on the turnaround plan to be made after the new board was seated. Accordingly, I responded. I was compelled to cast a vote on the record on behalf of constituents who elected me: the families of Westwood, Barnum and Villa Park who live in District 2 and attend Lake Middle School. The reality is that the decisions made last night–significant policy decisions–should have been decided by members of the new board. That is what constituents asked for.
Moreover, I know that the precedents that are set, and the judgments that are made, about the value of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program in general have direct ramifications on the IB schools in Southwest Denver: Sabin Elementary, Henry Middle School, and Kennedy High School. The community of Southwest Denver has worked tirelessly so that these schools have IB programs in a “feeder pattern” that offer students a seamless path to academic rigor, languages and arts; from kindergarten through high school graduation. As I talked to voters during my campaign, this type of well-rounded program that educates the whole child is precisely what they said they wanted in Southwest Denver. I took a stand for the parents and the children of Southwest Denver in my actions to be seated early.
Michelle Moss has been a strong, inspirational force on the Denver school board for the last 8 years. It’s true that her help was instrumental in my election, and I agonized long and hard over the decision to be sworn in early because of her history of community service. I have the utmost respect for Michelle Moss and sincerely regret the emotional pain that I may have caused her last night.
I took a stand for the students, families and teachers of Denver Public Schools. Working with my colleagues on the school board, I intend to ensure that community always has a voice in what happens to their children and in their neighborhood schools. I will continue to make tough choices and ask hard questions so that board members have sufficient information before voting on critical policy issues, and so that processes for full transparency and accountability are followed.
I made this promise during my campaign to be a champion for excellent schools and I intend to follow through on this promise to the people of Southwest Denver, and to the other residents of the City and County of Denver.