Can the Douglas County School Board get along with one another?

Posted at 5:32 PM, Jun 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 21:28:52-04

An exchange between Douglas County School Board Directors Doug Benevento and Wendy Vogel was caught on camera by Denver7 after the board’s June 21 meeting that appeared very contentious.

In the exchange, Benevento can be heard on a live microphone saying to Vogel, “I think you’re unethical and I think you’re a hypocrite and if you think the rest of my time of the board [sic], I can promise you [it] will be very difficult on you guys.”

RELATED: Upset parents calling for resignation interrupt Douglas County School Board meeting Tuesday

The conversation now has one conflict resolution therapist paying attention and comparing the board to a rocky marriage.

“I would like to think a therapist could help or a mediator could help or regaining a sense of what we do in America, we talk to each other, we don't bully," said Susan Heitler, who’s a clinical psychologist.

Heitler knows a thing or two about bickering school boards.

Heitler was brought in to help the board during a big disagreement in Denver Public Schools in 2009.

“If everyone can calm down and come together with a goal of really listening to each other and finding mutual solutions, then there's hope," said Heitler.

Some Douglas County taxpayers are sounding off on social media and told Denver7 that regardless of political leanings, they are not happy with the example being set by this board for its students.

"I haven't seen a discussion that centers on the importance of any initiative as it pertains to the children and the district, and their education," said Jeanne Work Swaim.

Michael Money said he’s a long-time Republican, but told Denver7 he won’t vote for anyone on the current board the next time around after discussing the issues with his daughter, who is a teacher in Southern Colorado.

“We talked about the individual board members and quite frankly last time around there was no mention of party, I don't know that party politics has a great deal to do with school boards."   

If the school board is going to take Heitler’s advice and use some conflict resolution tools to help get along with one another, they’ll have a month to do it.

The next board meeting is July 19.


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