Colorado

Friday churn: Jeffco puts closures on hold

Updated 5:10 p.m. – Denver’s election division has rejected an effort to recall Denver School Board President Nate Easley, saying parts of the proposed recall petition are not in compliance with state law.

John McBride, the former school board candidate who launched the effort, can re-file his petition. Easley was elected to represent Far Northeast Denver in 2009. He is part of the board majority that has pushed through dramatic changes in some low-performing schools, including Montbello High School, despite bitter opposition from other board members, the teachers’ union and some community activists and members.

Read the letter outlining issues with McBride’s petition.

Updated 3:45 p.m.Jefferson County school board members are putting any school closures and consolidations on hold through at least 2011-12.

Board members made the decision Thursday night after more discussions of the district’s preliminary five-year facilities master plan, which included the closure and consolidation of up to 16 schools. In the first year, or 2011-12, at least two elementary schools – Thomson and Zerger – were candidates for closure. Read more about the plan here.

“We’re going to continue to look at our options and develop a five-year strategic plan for facilities but we are not in a position to do anything in the immediate future, for this year at least,” said board president Dave Thomas.

While closing and consolidating schools might save Jeffco money in the long run, the initial shuttering of buildings and shifting of students carries a price tag.

“They all have price tags on them and some of them are relatively small,” Thomas said, “but a lot of them have some long-term policy implications and we really want to spend some more time looking at those policy implications.”

That doesn’t mean discussions about a bond issue and tax rate increase are off the table for November 2011, he said.

Updated 3 p.m. – Gaps in early childhood developmental gains, school readiness and academic success will negatively affect the state’s economic health, leaders of the Colorado Early Childhood Leadership Commission told lawmakers and Gov. John Hickenlooper today.

The commission, created by the 2010 legislature, is studying ways to improve health and education outcomes for children 0-8 and specifically to recommend better ways to coordinate fragmented policies and programs.

“Often our efforts are not good enough,” said commissioner co-chair Anna Jo Haynes, citing statistics about childhood poverty and school readiness gaps. Pat Hamill, the other co-chair, said, “We really have no system in the state for early children education.” The group’s report notes there are six state agencies and more than 20 funding sources involved in the field. The commission next year will make recommendations about streamlining such services. Read the full report here.

The commission reported to a joint meeting of four legislative committee and Hickenlooper.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Conversations about the work of the State Council on Educator Effectiveness tend to focus more on teachers than principals. But school leaders are front and center in today’s School Leadership Academy Advisory Board meeting.

The board was created by the 2008 legislature “to provide a statewide comprehensive leadership and professional development system that identifies, recruits, trains and inducts qualified persons for leadership positions in public schools.” But work didn’t get organized until last year because of funding issues. Members have been updating state principal standards and working with the educator effectiveness council, which is developing broader recommendations for teacher and principal effectiveness.

The leadership academy board meets from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the board room at the Department of Education, 201 E. Colfax Ave. On the agenda is a revision of Leadership Standards, based on feedback from the educator effectiveness council, and developing the Leadership Academy concept. The council will present the new Colorado standards for school principals at next month’s State Board of Education meeting.

To learn more about the leadership academy board, including a list of members, and to see the agenda, go here. The educator effectiveness council, meanwhile, meets again Monday. See more about that meeting here.

Good reads from elsewhere:

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.