Wednesday Churn: Notice rule dies

Updated 4 p.m. – A tie vote this afternoon by the Legislative Legal Service Committee effectively killed the State Board of Education rule that requires school districts inform parents when employees are arrested for certain crimes.

The board unanimously approved the rule last April, and it was subsequently challenged in court by the Colorado Education Association. That case is pending, although a Denver judge earlier this fall denied a motion for an injunction against the rule.

State agency rules are governed by a complex review process. Once issued, rules are in effect until the following May 15. For rules to go into effect permanently, the legislature passes a law every year extending rules beyond May 15.

Lawyers from the Office of Legislative Legal Services review new rules and may make recommendations to the Legal Services Committee, a joint House-Senate panel. In this case the staff lawyers recommended the parent notice rule not be extended because they concluded the board didn’t have the legal power to issue it.

A motion to extend the rule died on a 5-5 vote, with committee Republicans voting yes and Democrats voting no. That means the rule will expire next May 15.

SBE Chair Bob Schaffer, R-1st District, attended the committee hearing and testified. He said after the meeting that he’ll probably start looking around for a legislative sponsor to carry a bill in 2012 that would make parent notification the law.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

The Department of Education and some universities have significant amounts of unspent federal stimulus funds, but officials told the Legislative Audit Committee Tuesday that they plan to use the money before federal deadlines hit.

The committee was briefed by members of the state auditor’s staff on unspent American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. The staff report (not a full audit) focused on the Department of Education and the Governor’s Energy Office because those agencies have spent less than 75 percent of the funds received. The report also covered three grants to the University of Colorado and one to Colorado State University.

Two grants to CDE and the lieutenant governor’s office totaled $18.9 million, of which $3 million has been spent. The four higher education grants totaled $26.1 million, of which $10.4 million has been spent.

The largest is the $17.4 million longitudinal data systems grant to CDE, of which $2.7 million has been spent. The grant must be used by June 30, 2013. Dan Domagala, CDE chief information officer, said 73 percent of the funds have been committed. “We’re on plan,” he added, to finish the project before the federal deadline.

What’s on tap:


Democratic legislative leaders will offer a look at their 2012 legislative agenda during an 11:30 a.m. Capitol news conference. Senate President Brandon Shaffer of Longmont and Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino also are supposed to unveil the first bill of the session, Senate Bill 12-001.

A briefing on innovation schools is scheduled at 3 p.m. at Colorado Education Association offices in downtown Denver. Kelci Price, with the School of Education & Human Development at CU-Denver, will present the first report from an ongoing three-year study of the state’s innovation law and the first innovation schools in Denver. It’s hosted by CEA, A+ Denver, Denver Public Schools, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, Education Reform Now and Get Smart Schools.

The Colorado Springs District 11 board meets at 6:30 p.m. at 1115 N. El Paso St. Agenda

The St. Vrain Valley School District board is scheduled to meet at 395 S. Pratt Parkway in Longmont at 7 p.m. Agenda

Good reads from elsewhere:

The New York Times spent several months analyzing the for-profit online schools provider K12 Inc. and reports its findings in this in-depth article, which notes, “A portrait emerges of a company that tries to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload and lowering standards.” Read article

A dispute over land is heating up between Eagle County School District, Stone Creek Charter School and the Charter School Institute. The school district is calling in state officials to investigate. Story in the Vail Daily here.

A third-party analysis of Craig Middle School found some structural concerns and as a precaution students are being kept from entering certain portions of the building. The independent review was sought after problems surfaced at Meeker Elementary School. The Neenan Co., the district’s general contractor, was in charge of the work at both buildings. Story in the Craig Daily Press here.

Weekend Reads

Need classroom decor inspiration? These educators have got you covered.

This school year, students will spend about 1,000 hours in school —making their classrooms a huge part of their learning experience.

We’re recognizing educators who’ve poured on the pizazz to make students feel welcome. From a 9th-grade “forensics lab” decked out in caution tape to a classroom stage complete with lights to get first graders pumped about public speaking, these crafty teachers have gone above and beyond to create great spaces.

Got a classroom of your own to show off? Know someone that should be on this list? Let us know!

Jaclyn Flores, First Grade Dual Language, Rochester, New York
“Having a classroom that is bright, cheerful, organized and inviting allows my students to feel pride in their classroom as well as feel welcome. My students look forward to standing on the stage to share or sitting on special chairs to dive into their learning. This space is a safe place for my students and we take pride in what it has become.”

Jasmine, Pre-K, Las Vegas, Nevada
“My classroom environment helps my students because providing calming colors and a home-like space makes them feel more comfortable in the classroom and ready to learn as first-time students!”


Oneika Osborne, 10th Grade Reading, Miami Southridge Senior High School, Miami, Florida
“My classroom environment invites all of my students to constantly be in a state of celebration and self-empowerment at all points of the learning process. With inspirational quotes, culturally relevant images, and an explosion of color, my classroom sets the tone for the day every single day as soon as we walk in. It is one of optimism, power, and of course glitter.”

Kristen Poindexter, Kindergarten, Spring Mill Elementary School, Indianapolis, Indiana
“I try very hard to make my classroom a place where memorable experiences happen. I use songs, finger plays, movement, and interactive activities to help cement concepts in their minds. It makes my teacher heart so happy when past students walk by my classroom and start their sentence with, “Remember when we…?”. We recently transformed our classroom into a Mad Science Lab where we investigated more about our 5 Senses.”


Brittany, 9th Grade Biology, Dallas, Texas
“I love my classroom environment because I teach Biology, it’s easy to relate every topic back to Forensics and real-life investigations! Mystery always gets the students going!”


Ms. Heaton, First Grade, Westampton, New Jersey
“As an educator, it is my goal to create a classroom environment that is positive and welcoming for students. I wanted to create a learning environment where students feel comfortable and in return stimulates student learning. A classroom is a second home for students so I wanted to ensure that the space was bright, friendly, and organized for the students to be able to use each and every day.”

D’Essence Grant, 8th Grade ELA, KIPP Houston, Houston, Texas
“Intentionally decorating my classroom was my first act of showing my students I care about them. I pride myself on building relationships with my students and them knowing I care about them inside and outside of the classroom. Taking the time to make the classroom meaningful and creative as well building a safe place for our community helps establish an effective classroom setting.”


Jayme Wiertzema, Elementary Art, Worthington, Minnesota
“I’m looking forward to having a CLASSROOM this year. The past two years I have taught from a cart and this year my amazing school district allowed me to have a classroom in our school that is busting at the seams! I’m so excited to use my classroom environment to inspire creativity in my students, get to know them and learn from their amazing imaginations in art class!”


Melissa Vecchio, 4th Grade, Queens, New York
“Since so much of a student’s time is spent inside their classroom, the environment should be neat, organized, easy to move around in but most of all positive. I love to use a theme to reinforce great behavior. I always give the students a choice in helping to design bulletin boards and desk arrangements. When they are involved they take pride in the classroom, and enjoy being there.”

moving forward

After Confederate flag dispute at Colorado football game, schools pledge to bring students together

PHOTO: Marc Piscotty
Manual High students.

Acknowledging “we may never have a conclusive picture of what happened,” two Colorado school districts sought to move past a controversy over whether a Confederate flag was displayed at a football game and open a conversation between the two school communities.

The principal of Manual High, Nick Dawkins, wrote in a community letter over the weekend that the visiting Weld Central High School team “displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the (Friday night) game, offending many members of the Manual community.”

Officials from Denver Public Schools and Weld County School District Re-3J released a joint letter Tuesday saying that based “on what we have learned to date, however, the Weld Central team did not display the Confederate flag.” At the same time, it said, multiple Manual eyewitnesses “reported seeing spectators who attempted to bring a Confederate flag into the game and clothing with flag images.”

Going forward, students from the two schools — one rural and one urban — will participate in a student leadership exchange that has student leaders visit each other’s schools and communities to “share ideas and perspectives,” the letter says.

“At a time in our country when so many are divided, we want our students instead to come together, share ideas and learn together,” says the letter, which is signed by the principals of both schools and the superintendents of both school districts.

The alleged incident took place at a time when issues of race, social injustice, politics and sports are colliding in the United States, making for tough conversations, including in classrooms.

Weld Central’s mascot is a Rebel. Manual, whose mascot is the Thunderbolts, is located in one of Denver’s historically African-American neighborhoods.

Dawkins in his initial community letter also said “the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field,” and that three Manual players were injured, including one who went to the hospital with a leg injury. He also said some Manual players reported that Weld Central players “taunted them with racial slurs.”

Weld Central officials vehemently denied that their team displayed the flag. In addition, they said in their own community letter they had “no evidence at this point that any of our student athletes displayed racially motivated inappropriate behavior.”

They said district officials “do not condone any form of racism,” including the Confederate flag.

Weld Central fans told the Greeley Tribune that they didn’t see any Confederate flag.

Read the full text below.