Following up on a story that first appeared here at Colorado Pols (and Jeffco Pols), Zahira Torres of the Denver Post digs into the strange goings-on among the three new members of the Jefferson County School Board:
The Jefferson County school board's new majority may have skirted a law that requires them to conduct business openly by hiring an attorney without a public interview process, according to an open-government expert.
Thomas Kelley, a lawyer for the Colorado Press Association and The Denver Post, said the board's 3-2 decision last week to hire Colorado Springs-based law firm Miller Sparks LLC may have violated the state's open-meetings act, which requires board members to conduct business in public.
"It's not all that common for a board of a public entity to, by itself, conduct interviews, but when they do, at least when it doesn't involve interviews for a personnel position, they have to do those interviews in public," Kelley said.
Led by board president Ken Witt, the majority hired Miller Sparks to represent the school board without seeking proposals for the contract, publicly vetting the candidates or getting cost estimates. Witt and board members Julie Williams and John Newkirk — who were elected in November on a conservative platform — did not return phone calls seeking comment. [Pols emphasis]
It's certainly not an auspicious start. Let's stipulate the new majority, elected with the help of voucher advocate Alex Cranberg and others, came in facing suspicions from certain quarters about their intentions. Would they push for vouchers? Would they focus less on neighborhood schools and more on charters? Was Jeffco about to go the way of Dougco?
I reached out to Witt, the board president, to see if he could ease some minds about the majority's agenda, but did not hear back from him. That leaves us to judge the events at face value.
Unfortunately, these first impressions do little to quell concerns and much to heighten them.