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JeffCo school board president: Recall ballot is ‘baseless’

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- Political theatrics reached new heights in Jefferson County on Thursday over the upcoming school board recall election.

A closed-door news conference was held to deny allegations of closed-door meetings.

Jefferson County school board president Ken Witt is asking an independent commission to look into allegations against him.

Only invited media members were allowed into his news conference Thursday as he defended his actions.

Less than a month before the Nov. 3 ballots are sent to voters, JeffCo's embattled school board president held a letter addressed to the Independent Ethics Commission.

This comes fresh off a recall petition drive with thousands of signatures asking for a recall election of three school board members.

"They've made baseless accusations that we've broken the law and I'm calling their bluff,” Witt said.

Witt said he is asking the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission to rule on whether he violated Colorado Sunshine Laws.

"Mr. Witt still hasn't realized that we need to be taking the politics out of our schools and I see this as a political stunt," said Lynea Hansen with JeffCo United for Action.

Recall organizers claim Witt, along with board members Julie Williams and John Newkirk, violated open meetings laws by hiring a lawyer behind closed doors, spending thousands of taxpayer dollars illegally and mishandling school board emails.

“I am not seeking to be exonerated because there's simply nothing to be exonerated from," Witt said.

The debate has raged for nearly two years, making national headlines last fall, when the three members tried to change Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum.

Both sides claim students are at the real heart of their debate.

"There are a lot of people like me who really care about our kids: Parents, teachers, community members that don't want our school district ripped apar,” said Terri Taylor-Straut, a JeffCo parent.

“I just know the focus is on students and that's all the board work that they've done and it's just a shame that the divisiveness comes from the inaccurate accusations," said Sheila Atwell, a parent with JeffCo Students First, the organization that raised money to help elect the new board members.

The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission ruled in 2009 that it has no jurisdiction over members of state school boards and likely will have no impact on this election.