FOX31 Denver

Teachers’ union says recalling Douglas County school board members isn’t the answer

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (KDVR) – Douglas County Board of Education members are faced with mounting criticism over the handling of the return to in-person learning, but the union representing teachers in Douglas County doesn’t believe recalling school board members is the answer. 

A group of parents announced plans to launch a recall effort of four of the seven board members. Nate Ormond is organizing the recall petition. He has pledged $100,000 of his own money. He said they need 80,000 signatures.

Ormond said 50 people have expressed interest in being potential candidates should the recall be successful. He hopes to have a special election at the end of April. 

But the teachers’ union says an expensive recall is not going to help students get back to class. 

“I think being a school board member right now has to be one of the most complicated, complex positions you could have right now and it’s pretty easy to sit on the sidelines and imagine you could do it better, but I don’t think I could,” said Kallie Leyba, president of the Douglas County Federation. “I don’t envy any of the school leaders in the country right now.” 

She said school boards across the country are in a difficult situation.

“There’s no crystal ball or playbook to look into the future to see how their decisions play out. They have a lot of weight on their shoulders right now. If we go back into schools and God forbid a student dies, or anyone catches the virus and ends up with any severe, long-term symptoms, that was because of a decision they made,” Leyba said. “But at the same time, their primary job is to educate students and so making a decision to keep students out of the building is not a winning decision either.” 

Leyba says teachers want to get back into their classrooms, but many feel it is too risky right now. 

“I’m hearing from people that we are too close to getting the vaccine to be taking a risk,” she said.

She said teachers believe consistency is the best option for students, and they are happy to work with the district to come up with options. But she said there is one challenge:

“We are the only district in the (Denver) metro area that doesn’t have a formalized relationship with their teachers’ union. So the other districts are working collaboratively with their teachers to solve these problems and Douglas County, we just have administration working to solve these problems. It would be much more effective if we asked teachers who are in the classroom facing these issues daily to roll up their sleeves and help us figure out these problems, and we are happy to do that.”