Uh Oh….Campaign Finance Act Violation?

DeStefanoYesterday, Jon DeStefano, head of the Jeffco Administrators Association, used his Jeffco school district email and district resources to send an email to the principals of all 157 Jefferson County Public Schools, to praise the fact that there are only two candidates running against the three school board incumbents up for reelection in the November school board race. In his email yesterday, Mr. DeStefano states that “This is very good news for Jefferson County Public Schools. The retention of a Board majority insures continued stability for our school district and support for our new superintendent, Dr. Jason Glass.”

Click to enlarge actual email.

Official Email

This endorsement coming from a school district email, using school district resources surely violates the Colorado Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA). FCPA specifically states that “school materials and equipment such as paper, copy machines, computers, telephones, bulk mailing permits, e-mail, the “pony” intra-district mail system, etc. cannot be used under any circumstances to prepare, post, sort or distribute any materials or information expressing a position concerning an election matter.”

Why would Mr. DeStefano think it is okay to send an email such as this in support of the current school board? Is it a foregone conclusion that every school administrator in Jeffco public schools supported the recall and election of 5 union-endorsed candidates? Is it simply assumed that every school administrator is happy with the status-quo and academic results of the students in Jefferson County?  And lest you argue that Jon DeStefano has no public position on the matter, let us set the record straight. Mr. DeStefano, a former Denver Teachers Union publication editor, former advertising manager for the Jeffco teachers union publication, and past board president of the Colorado Association of School Boards, was a strong and outspoken proponent and staunch supporter of the Jeffco school board recall of 2015. Mr. DeStefano was also embroiled in a recall effort just last year for his own position on the Platte Canyon school board.  The group Parents and Citizens for Education in the Platte Canyon school district initiated the recall process.

Mr. DeStefano served on the Jeffco school board in the early nineties and again in the late nineties and was a member of the board that hired Cindy Stevenson. Having run a number of school board campaigns, one would think Mr. DeStefano is very familiar with the campaign laws. Did he intend to send an email encouraging support for Mr. Mitchell and his compatriots? How many other times has Mr. DeStefano or others used district resources to encourage support for board candidates? How many of our tax dollars have been misused? What will the consequences be for this huge breach of community trust?

Is the New Million Dollar Superintendent Breaking District Policy?

Glass 2

Did Jeffco’s new superintendent, Jason Glass, follow district policy when he recommended a list of websites and articles as “learning resources” for all K-12 teachers to use when teaching about the Charlottesville incident?   

Did he follow “District Policy IJ”which says that all recommended instructional resources for elementary, middle and senior high schools will be updated and submitted to the Board of Education for approval, and that the viewpoints of citizens, staff and students will be considered in the review/recommendation process? Did he include a multi-step process in which major support resources are evaluated through public comment and three committees?  No, he did not. 

Were citizens’ viewpoints considered when making these curriculum selections?  And how many Jeffco parents were notified of the exact list of resources that Superintendent Glass has recommended? If you would like to see Superintendent Glass’s new curriculum resource guide, it is listed below. To access the entire list, please click on Glass’s onedrive link.

Jason Glass’s Recommended Resources for Responding to Hate Crimes and Incidents of Hate

The first thing teachers should do when school starts is talk about hatred in America.  – Washington Post

Why Talk About Whiteness? By Emily Chiariello Summer 2016

Southern Poverty Law Center

NEA Today

Teaching Tolerance

Anti-Defamation League

Educational Resources

Blog about the recent ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, VA with advice about what the teachable moments are including providing a historical context, understanding the alt-right, the First Amendment and promoting respect, equity and justice.

Strategies and advice for talking with young people about race and racism.

Strategies and resources for talking with students about important stories in the news about bias and injustice.

A guide for educators and families that provide the tools they need to help young people confront hate effectively in the aftermath of hate violence or terrorism in their community.

From Books Matter, a collection of books about race and racism including biography/history, racism, slavery and racial pride.

Relevant Lesson Plans and Curriculum Resources

Facing History and Ourselves

Articles For Educators

On Twitter, the hashtag: #CharlottesvilleCurriculum  is a curated place for sharing curriculum for addressing what happened the weekend of August 13th.