Adams 14 files complaint with state board of education

Dispute over reorganization heads to court

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The ongoing war of words between the Adams 14 School District and the Colorado State Board of Education is heading for a court hearing.

 The district filed a complaint for judicial review with Denver District Court June 28 in protest of the state board's decision to remove Adams 14's accreditation and subsequent order for reorganization. The Classroom Teachers Association, which represents Adams 14 employees, also joined in the lawsuit.

 The district has been plagued by low test scores for years. Earlier attempts to bring the district up to speed have not worked or been cut off early, including a contract with an outside management firm earlier this year.

 The complaint cites a dozen claims for relief, including challenges to what the district says is an "unconstitutional manner" that the state board used the Accountability Act against schools, such as Adams 14.

 The Legislature adopted the act in 2009. It authorizes the state department of education to do annual performance reviews of public schools and districts and allows CDE to make recommendations to the state board concerning improvement plans.

 "Never in Colorado's history has a Colorado public school district been faced with such an abuse of power by the state board," the district said in a prepared statement. "Colorado Department of Education data indicates that Colorado public school districts serving a large number of low-income, non-English speaking students of color are far more likely to be placed on the state's accountability clock than school districts that serve predominantly affluent White English-speaking students."

 The state board of education declined to comment.

 "We have received notification of the legal action but don’t discuss ongoing legal matters," said spokeswoman Erica Grasmick. "The state board of education has followed their obligations to intervene in a struggling district as statute dictates. We look forward to exploring the district’s concerns with the court."

 The district went on to say that once a school or district is on the accountability clock, the state board "can take punishing action against that school or school district."

Adams 14 also accused the state board of "arbitrary and egregious conduct."

 “This complaint is a line in the sand against an extremely abusive state agency that thumbs its nose at local control,” said Joe Salazar, Adams 14 chief legal counsel, in the prepared statement. “A local school district's constitutional right to local control has been a mainstay of Colorado law for decades. In all my years serving the public and litigating cases, I have never seen a state agency openly and flagrantly ignore Colorado's Constitution in the manner we are seeing from this state board.

 The state board is obliged to file an answer, the district said. Adams 14 officials said litigation on this could take a year or longer. 

Adams 14 School District, Colorado Board of Education, Adams 14 reorgnization

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