Jeffco school board hires solo superintendent candidate on 3-2 vote

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- The Jefferson County Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday night to make Daniel McMinimee the next superintendent.

It was not a unanimous decision and one that came with a lot of controversy. The board's vote was 3-2 to hire the only candidate it presented for the job. The board then went on to debate the five-year contract at a salary of $280,000 per year. Members decided to take up the contract again at the next meeting, so the hiring won't actually be final until the contract is approved.

But several thousand parents, teachers and community members had signed a petition hoping to convince them to change course.

Some people in the crowded meeting were escorted out after speaking out of turn. Some described the scene as "rowdy" at times as people in the audience disagreed with the board's actions.

Last week the board agreed to listen to public comment before voting on their only finalist for the job. On Friday a sign-up sheet for public comment, which is limited to 45 minutes, filled up within a few hours.

There was a debate among board members to extend the comment period, but the motion to do that was voted down, 3-2.

For months, protests and packed meetings have become more and more common in Jeffco, after the conservative, three member majority on the board began asserting their power in a series of 3-2 decisions.

Though many in the vocal opposition consisted of people who oppose their conservative, reform agenda, and the recent announcement of just a single finalist for the superintendent job has drawn criticism from a larger group of people.

“We are quite concerned about a lot of things going on right now,” said Michael Clark, a Jeffco resident who voted for the conservative members of the board.

Clark says he voted for the new board members because he believed they would bring accountability and a watchful eye on spending. Now he is speaking out against the recent decisions they've made in regards to superintendent.

“It’s a wide spectrum of people that are disappointed with the current majority," Clark said. "Several republican friends that I know are actually supremely disappointed because they’re not being fiscally responsible.”

Clark started an online petition on Monday calling for the board to rescind their finalist and name three new ones. He argues that they squandered a $40,000 national search by not selecting more than one finalist. He is also troubled by the fact that the entire board did not agree on that decision.

He is far from alone in his frustration. In a day the petition had generated 4,700 signatures.

Some of those shared their concern during Tuesday night's meeting.

“We don’t know why they chose this person, we don’t know how this person stacked up against the other candidates, and with only one candidate this is all we have to go by,” said Ami Prichard of the Jeffco Education Association. She's concerned about what some criticize as a lack of transparency.

The finalist for the job, Daniel McMinimee, is an assistant superintendent for Douglas County Schools. McMinimee also has two children that have gone through the Jeffco school system. During a recent interview with FOX31 he said he brings his own perspective to the job and isn't interested in simply copying the reforms that Dougco has been known for.

"I think there's people who have this picture of somebody just coming in and rubber stamping things," McMinimee said. "I think I've made it pretty clear that that`s not what I`m all about.'

“I’d like to think that people will give the candidate a chance,” said Sheila Atwell, Executive Director of Jeffco Students First.

Atwell says she supports the conservative board and the decision to hire McMinimee, but she does have lingering questions about the draft of his contract made public last week. She says she's concerned about McMinimee's proposed $280,000 contract that would last five years.

“I would very much like to see a performance component be part of this pay because if we’re going to expect our teachers to be accountable," Atwell said. "Then the superintendent ought to be.”

McMinimee has already faced many harsh questions from residents who are upset about the hiring process and skeptical of his background in Dougco. Clark says it's the board that should be facing the criticism instead.

“Actually I think he’s one of the ones the board has offended and harmed," Clark said. "By not having other candidates for him to stack up against, he can’t really prove himself publicly that he is the best candidate for the position.”




    • Cecelia Hendry Lange

      The public performance of the three-person majority is disgraceful. What happened to reason, civility and objectivity? I doubt any of the three knows the meaning of any of the terms. I am not a Jeffco teacher, union member, or parent; I am a Jeffco taxpayer!

  • John Gallup. Jeffco parent

    This has nothing to do with the union Tommy boy, it has to do with three incompetent individuals hijacking a school district, being fiscally irresponsible, lack of accountability or respect for the people that voted them into office. Get yourself educated, oh yea a teacher would have to help you out on that one.

    • Harold Seaward

      Three incompetent individuals that were VOTED into their position. I know, how could the majority of voters want a
      conservative School Board? You should look into voter fraud and corruption.

      • John Gallup. Jeffco parent

        Harold, not sure where you saw conservative in my statement. I simply look at the facts and their actions and see incompetency, it makes no difference if they are conservative or liberal, honesty counts.

  • Lela Mulvihill

    It has to do with 3 incompetent individuals from a party that will lie, cheat and steal to get their way. Only one candidate? Really? What are they scared of? Where is the transparency and accountability? So typical of the republicans.

  • Fast45

    A very tiny segment of individuals, most of which have personal issues and prejudices about accountability and performance, are protesting. The overwhelming majority of residents within Jeffco approve of the board and the new superintendent. Kudos to the board, for not allowing the voices of communism and unions to sway their good judgement!

    • John Gallup. Jeffco parent

      Communism, are you kidding me, unions would not last a second under a communist government. People that disagree with this board and the new supt. hire are the ones with children in school and are directly affected by the board majorities fiscal irresponsibility, lack of transparency and lack of truthfulness. Those that say they support these incompetent leaders simply are not educated on the specifics of the issues. My kids education matters so I am going to fight.

      • Fast45

        Most parents support the board, and their leadership. Sure, the proposed superintendent’s salary is high. Why fight? Jeffco schools’ students seem to be doing quite well, since the board began to purge unaccountable mindsets and cultures. By far, most who protest are liberal union supporters, and do not accurately represent the whole demographic of Jeffco parents.

  • john

    lets be honest, most taxpayers and even most parents coast along with the idea that the school board will do what it has always done and not adopt an extremist ideology. In this case a group with a mission took advantage of that apathy and took control. Now that slim majority is pushing its agenda on everyone and I seriously doubt a majority of parents support them. Just look at the language of the supporters in this list of comments. “communism” “King obama”… seems like the wackos are the only supporters of these people to me.

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