Douglas County School Board to discuss superintendent search

Finalists could be identified in a week's time

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Selecting former Superintendent Corey Wise to helm the Douglas County School District took roughly four months. Finding the finalists to replace him might take little more than a week, according to a potential superintendent search timeline the board is poised to discuss today.

Wise was fired Feb. 4 through a controversial 4-3 vote in which a newly-elected board majority — Mike Peterson, Becky Myers, Christy Williams and Kaylee Winegar —said he was not the right leader for DCSD. They cited disapproval of his management of masking requirements, and said they felt undermined by Wise as board directors, as some of their reasoning.

Directors David Ray, Susan Meek and Elizabeth Hanson vehemently opposed removing Wise. He was unilaterally terminated without cause.

The board is discussing its superintendent search process at a Feb. 16 special meeting. The meeting will be held virtually as a winter weather storm moves into the area this evening, a district spokeswoman announced  shortly after 1 p.m.

A proposed timeline to select Douglas County Schools’ next superintendent was posted to the agenda for a Feb. 16 special meeting and shows the search process kickstarting this evening. The board is slated to take action on the official timeline, a superintendent job description and salary, plus standard interview questions, according to the agenda.

Under that timeline, the vacant superintendent position would be posted internally within the district on Feb. 17 so DCSD staff can apply.

At the board’s regular meeting on Feb. 22, directors would discuss applications in an open session if the candidate pool has been narrowed to three or fewer, according to the proposed timeline. The board would take action that night on which candidates to interview.

Come Feb. 24, the board would conduct interviews with candidates during a special meeting and vote on finalists. From there, dates in the hiring process are listed as yet to be determined. The timeline calls for gathering community feedback through a staff forum, a student forum, and a parent and community forum.

The remainder of the timeline would “be determined based on the number of finalists.”

When Wise was being selected, the initial proposed timeline for that search began in December 2020 and ended in May 2021. The board wound up naming Wise as the superintendent on April 20 last year.

The board had announced four finalists in early April 2021 from an applicant pool of more than 100. That included two internal and two out-of-state finalists. The district had hired outside search firm Frederick Andrews to conduct its search.

On her Facebook page, Director Meek asked for input on allowing one week to find superintendent finalists. The post garnered more than 200 comments as of the morning of Feb. 16, which overwhelmingly called on the board to spend weeks if not months selecting superintendent finalists.  

In a deeply divided district, Meek was not without criticism among commentators, also fielding a response saying her request for feedback appeared aimed at drumming up support for a longer timeline. 

The timeline also further fueled speculation that majority board directors have pre-determined the next superintendent will be Erin Kane, a former interim DCSD superintendent and executive director of American Academy, a DCSD charter school.

Kane recently joined multiple charter schools in requesting waivers from the district’s common communicable disease policy and requested a waiver from the district’s equity policy.

In past months she has advocated for giving charters autonomy over their COVID-19 protocols, including giving them the choice to require or not require masking during the pandemic, if schools are not required to by local, state or federal mandates.

Kane could not be immediately reached for comment. Colorado Community Media has requested comment from board President Peterson on the timeline. He declined an interview request about the superintendent search before the meeting was scheduled, a spokeswoman said.  

This story has been updated to show the Feb. 16 special meeting will be held virtually.

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