School may be closed for students in the Douglas County School District, but the legal issues in response to the Douglas County School Board’s actions keep coming – and so do the costs of defending them in court .
Two more examples emerged on June 14. The first is a new lawsuit that asks the DCSD to “‘show cause’ under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) as to why they refuse to allow inspection of training binders used by four newly elected administrators at a secret ‘retreat’ to Estes Park after being elected, but before being sworn in,” according to the plaintiff, Douglas County resident Robert Marshall. The document implies that the binders essentially provided a game plan for Mike Peterson, Becky Myers, Kaylee Winegar and Christine Williams, a conservative bloc elected last November, on how to circumvent Colorado’s open meeting law while organizing the dismissal of Superintendent Corey on February 4. Wise, as well as the hiring in March of retired participant Erin Kane, his hand-picked replacement.
Also on June 14, Douglas County announced that a lawsuit filed by the school district ahead of last November’s election over a decision by the Douglas County Board of Health to essentially oust COVID-19 masking rules for schools had been settled. The agreement calls for both the district and the health department to bear their own legal costs and the county to pay an additional $90,000 to DCSD for “hiring a psychological safety coordinator,” a statement reveals. Press. Douglas County calls the settlement “amicable”, which is unsurprising as it was a holdover from the previous council. After their election, Peterson, Myers, Winegar and Williams supported allowing parents to opt out of face-covering requirements, as ordered by the Board of Health.
But Marshall’s current campaign won’t be so easy to dismiss. An earlier lawsuit by Marshall against the Dougco School District and its board is still ongoing, and his latest complaint builds on his predecessor, who argues that Peterson, Myers, Winegar and Williams took part in two conversations at the same time that Marshall refers. as a daisy chain to plot Wise’s ousting from public view, in violation of Colorado law. In March, 18th Judicial District Judge Jeffery K. Holmes granted a preliminary injunction against the practice; the district and school board appealed.
Estes Park’s three-day retreat began Nov. 5, just three days after the election of new board members. Marshall notes that “The newly elected Trustees’ choice for Superintendent, Erin Kane, attended this private retreat. This was in addition to the training/advice provided by attorney Will Trachman, who was immediately hired as the attorney for the board following the swearing-in of new directors, and who immediately resigned the next day as board counsel when his previously undisclosed role in the retirement came to light.”
As for the binders, the district says they are “not public records because the newly elected trustees were not yet ‘public officers’ subject to CORA when they used the binders for educational purposes. and training on their public functions”, continues Maréchal. “The trustees, however, continued to keep…these binders in their possession for the obvious purpose of guiding them in their public duties.”
As a result, “filing cabinets are now public records subject to inspection and disclosure,” Marshall asserts. “This refusal to provide records related to public office, CORA’s primary focus, is part of an ongoing trend by the new Board of Education to engage in secret decision-making and meetings to avoid abuse. public scrutiny expected by Colorado’s sun laws.”
The Douglas County School District declined to comment on the retrial. Click to read Robert Marshall c. Ioana Marin, the public records manager for the Douglas County School District.
This post has been updated to note that the Douglas County School District has not commented on the retrial.