COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — The Colorado State Board of Education has denied a request from Adams 14 School District to delay a decision over the district’s future after a report released by a state review panel recommended the closure of Adams City High School and a complete reorganization of the district.
The vote from the Board of Education was unanimous, with every member present for the virtual meeting voting to reject an extension.
Adams 14 School District now has until April 14, 2022, to present a plan for improvement that the board finds adequate. The board is required by law to intervene when schools in the state underperform for extended periods of time.
“We still have no plan of how we’re moving these kids forward,” said board member Karla Esser. “And, in my heart of hearts, I feel like we have let these students down—and teachers, quite frankly.”
The district had requested the scheduled meeting be moved from April to June since the current meeting is scheduled for the week state testing is set to take place. However, board members said state testing schedules have been known for two years, that problems with the district have been known for years longer; and that, therefore, there has been plenty of time to craft an improvement plan.
“Putting it off until June just means you won’t be able to implement [the plan] in August, because teachers come back in August,” Esser said. “I’m not quite sure why the leniency is needed.”
The report from the state review panel cited declining enrollment and a culture of fear and retaliation within the Adams 14, which had “limited improvement in student achievement and growth over many years.”
The report determined that “drastic change” is needed. Denver7 spoke to a representative and lawyer for the district who said the report was one-sided and that more blame should be cast on their former external management with MGT Consulting. MGT was put in place by the Board of Education to manage the district until earlier this year.
“The district was forced to work with an out-of-state, for-profit company that, in the years that followed failed, to meet its expectations,” said Robert Lundin, Executive Director of Communications for Adams 14.
Attorney Joseph Salazar, representing Adams 14, said the district had made a “simple request” to allow for testing and graduation preparations before presenting to the board.
“Once again, the state board is involving themselves in local control, which is against Colorado’s constitution,” Salazar said. “They’re demonstrating this will be a sham process.”
With the vote from the Board of Education, district leaders now must present a plan for improvement by April 14, 2022. If the plan is rejected by the board, the recommendation from the state panel to close Adams City High School could be adopted—at which point current students would attend other high schools in the area that have higher academic performance.