CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (KDVR) — Douglas County school board members will convene a special meeting Friday evening about the future of Superintendent Corey Wise.
The meeting comes just one day after school was canceled because nearly 1,000 teachers called out sick in protest. They believe four board members, including the board president, met privately to attempt to oust Wise.
“Those four board members can meet, they can get pizza, they could talk about the Broncos, they can talk about something happening in Douglas [County] that doesn’t pertain to their policy-making function,” Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition Executive Director Jeff Roberts said.
However, according to Roberts, once a conversation between three or more board members shifts to board business, the meeting would be in violation of Colorado’s open meetings laws.
“What that means is that the public needs to be invited to that meeting. Other school board members certainly have to know about that meeting,” Roberts said.
Douglas County School District Board President Mike Peterson sent a statement to FOX31 saying, in part, “at no time, did I or any of the majority board members, violate any laws related to the discussion of any personnel matter.”
According to Roberts, Colorado law allows two board members to have a private discussion. However, if board members intentionally hold multiple two-person meetings as a loophole, it violates the spirit of the law.
“These are called serial meetings. There’s not case law in Colorado about that but there is other states where courts have sort of frowned upon that practice,” Roberts said.
It is unknown whether members of Douglas County’s school board engaged in serial meetings or not.
The correct forum for bringing up an issue pertaining to the district’s superintendent is Friday’s special meeting, Roberts said.
“If they’re going to vote they would do it there so the public can observe the process,” he said.
According to the meeting agenda, “Board of Education Directors will discuss recent events and their impact on District leadership and operations.”
They will then go into an executive session, which is closed to the public, “for purposes of considering personnel matters … concerning the Superintendent’s performance and contract.”
“Has the school superintendent done a good job? Should the school superintendent be retained or fired? They can deliberate about that type of thing but they can’t make a decision about that in executive session,” Roberts said.
Following the executive session, the agenda says “The Board of Education will consider options contained in the Superintendent Contract.” It is in this part of the meeting that board members could opt to vote before the public on terminating Wise’s contract.