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Two Jeffco high schools close Friday after teachers call in “sick”

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Discord over the direction of Jefferson County Public Schools spilled into classrooms and onto sidewalks Friday after an unusually large number of teachers either called in sick or claimed personal days at two high schools, prompting the district to cancel classes.

A total of 50 teachers from Standley Lake and Conifer high schools were absent, out of 117 teachers at both schools. Without enough substitutes, Superintendent Dan McMinimee made a “quick and difficult decision,” saying there wouldn’t be enough adults in the buildings to provide a safe and secure environment for students.

At a news conference in which he apologized for inconveniencing parents, the first-year superintendent called the teachers’ choice “unfortunate” while declining to speculate on their reasons.

“While I respect the opportunity for free speech and expression, I think there are other ways we can work through these differences without putting kids in the middle,” McMinimee said.

The Jefferson County Education Association, the teachers union, said it did not organize

any action but understands the frustrations of teachers and others about what it described as a pattern of secrecy, wasting taxpayer dollars and disrespecting community priorities.

More disruption could be coming. An organized “sick-out” may be planned for Monday, district leadership wrote in an e-mail to staff Thursday that warned that such actions are illegal under state law.

Tensions in Colorado’s second-largest school district have been high since the November 2012 election of a conservative slate of three school board candidates who became the majority.

Acrimonious board meetings from last spring have spilled into this fall with debates over

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  • comment avatar Tahusker September 20, 2014

    Let me guess . . . the teachers “did it for the children”? Nice to see the grown-ups acting like toddlers and throwing a tantrum.

  • comment avatar SchoolGal September 20, 2014

    Actually they did it because despite the findings of an agreed upon third party, the school board continued to utilize a flawed evaluation system to determine compensation. If your pay was tied to a system that was hit or miss on your effectiveness, would you just accept it and move on?

  • comment avatar Eva September 20, 2014

    Board members are not only naive but incredibly ignorant if they think in education you can pay part of a staff in the same department different salaries other than for experience and expertise! The divide and conquer attitude only causes morale issues and may actually pit teacher against teacher instead of the healthy model of having mentors help those who may have less experience or struggle in areas!

    To award mentors a higher stipend would make more sense than trying to determine effective and partially effective evaluations! Furthermore if the criteria is based on test results from students the process is even more ludicrous!

    This board is getting exactly what they deserve!

  • comment avatar LakewoodEd September 20, 2014

    Teachers know who is a good teacher and who is not. Why should an ineffective teacher get paid the same even if they have the same “experience and expertise”? In the back of their minds, they are probably hoping the new system addresses the ones who are not serving their communities, schools and students.

  • comment avatar Scott September 20, 2014

    So, this is what Jeffco teachers should do. Go to work on Monday and Be at school a minute before the contract says they need to be there and leave 1 minute after their contracted time. Only grade papers, communicate with parents, write lessons and assessments, make copies, etc. ONLY during their planning time. No grading at home or on the weekends or communicating by email with parents or students, no parent conferences outside of the contracted school day. If it takes three weeks to get those 150 5 page research papers back to students, so be it. No volunteering to chaperone unless compensated, no attendance at any school function, no staying after school or coming in early to give any student any extra help. No work during their contracted lunch time. DO exactly what they are contracted to do and no more. , the board won’t be able to take any disciplinary action if teachers are fulfilling their contractual obligations and they along with Admin and parents will quickly discover what a bargain they were getting and show some appreciation and respect for the teaching staff.

  • comment avatar TaHusker September 20, 2014

    That’s a great idea . . . then they can ALL get classified as “partially effective” and ALL get the same lower (or no) raise. See how that works the other direction? I mean, “it’s in the contract”, right?

    What you are suggesting is just more childish behavior using the kids against the big, bad, ugly board that just isn’t going to give the union everything they want for nothing. If you don’t like the terms of your employment, then find a different job or a different district—or find another way to protest that doesn’t involve using the children as a weapon and feigning that its “all for them.” The reality is that it’s all about the teachers getting everything they want whether they perform highly or not and the idealistic little socialists who don’t pay the taxes to fund their salaries to begin with eat it up like candy.

  • comment avatar Ester September 20, 2014

    46% of new teachers leave the profession within five years.

    “Bad” teachers fire themselves. It’s a stressful job that few people would take on willingly if they weren’t enjoying it and succeeding. The turnover is especially massive in low-income, low-achievement schools.

  • comment avatar Farah September 20, 2014

    So the teachers union shut down two schools (unofficially of course so as to not violate the contract) because there were no planned raises for the bad instructors.

    It’s time for Jeffco to do away with the teachers unions just as Douglas county did. Then we can have teachers who care more about the children’s success then overpaying bad teachers.

  • comment avatar Shannon September 20, 2014

    Teachers are making thirty eight thousand dollars a year. Just let that sink in.

  • comment avatar Reinaldo September 29, 2014

    I was born in 1960. I am saddened by the damage my generation has done to our future generations. During the early part of the 20th century unions really worked well for the working man. Instead of looking for the greater good now, unions demonize anyone who disagree with them. Now, many states have right to work laws that protect our rights to work and unions are becoming more irrelevant. But greed set in and unions have ruined the educational system. Jefferson County, Colorado stands to lose a lot of state money because a majority of teachers decided to call in sick on multiple days. I hope you so-called “Educators” believe you are doing the right thing because there’s a good chance you’ll have less money per student. P.S. If you’re so fed up with your wages and curriculum, quit. You’re not doing anyone any favors by hanging around and collecting a paycheck.

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