'Sick-out' possible at Jefferson County schools Monday, email warns

Some students plan to stage walkout Tuesday

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - An organized "sick-out" may be planned for Monday in the Jefferson County School District, officials wrote in an e-mail to staff.

"District leadership has heard from several sources that a significant number of employees may be planning an organized “sick out” on Friday, Sept. 19 and Monday, Sept. 22," said the email, sent on Thursday.

The email warned that such actions are illegal under state law.

The prediction came true Friday when Standley Lake and Conifer high schools were forced to cancel classes after a total of 50 teachers didn't go to work.

This comes after the school board approved a controversial new teacher compensation plan on Thursday. Teachers were so upset by the evaluation system they issued a unanimous "no confidence" vote in board chairman Ken Witt last week.

Sunday evening, district spokeswoman Lynn Setzer told 7NEWS, "We are monitoring the number of teachers who have requested a substitute for Monday. So far, there's nothing out of the ordinary."

Alameda High teacher and teacher's union board member Erin Murphy emphasized that teachers are choosing individually to call out and the union has no hand in organizing.

"Any teacher who engages in this kind of protest is doing so because they're so concerned about the decisions and how they're going to affect students, they believe one day's protest to bring attention to it and try to bring a stop to it is worth it," Murphy said.

Murphy said anger among teachers goes far beyond money, and at the heart, is about disrespect and poor decisions from a new school board majority.

"The best thing that could happen is for leaders in our district to start collaborating with the community, respecting the community, and working with the community rather than making these decisions that cause all these conflicts," said Murphy.

High school junior Aaron Gose told 7NEWS that even though classes at his high school weren't canceled Friday, upheaval in the district is still apparent in the classroom.

"It's easy to tell, even with a busy lifestyle, that the teachers are not happy with what's changing," Gose said.

Facebook posts indicated Sunday that some JeffCo students are planning a walk-out to support teachers on Tuesday.

Students at Standley Lake and Conifer high schools protested Friday morning, holding signs such as, "my school, my voice."

Others have spoken out on social media sites, using the hashtag #standup4kids.

Students plan Tuesday walkout

Students at area Jefferson County high schools are planning walkouts on Tuesday to support teachers and to protest a school board proposal to review the way AP US History is taught.  The school board wants to make sure it discourages civil disobedience and presents the positive aspects of American History.

"Anything negative that I have learned in history has stuck with me.  If we don't learn the negative effects of history, we're bound to repeat it," said Pomona High School Senior, Kayla Greco.

A Facebook page called Arvada West Walk Out said: "The plan is to walk out during the passing period between advisement and 3rd period on Tuesday, September 23rd. The point is to make a statement about being against these changes, so instead of simply leaving the school we will line up along 64th with posters, signs, anything that shows that we are standing up for ourselves and our teachers."

A similar Facebook page was created by Pomona High School students encouraging the same thing.

"You can tell the teachers, it’s affecting them and they’re worried not only for how they’re going to teach the students but also for the student’s futures and what they’re gonna do," said Pomona High School Senior, Blythe Crowe.

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