Union sent email to rally support at school board meeting

6:30 PM, Feb 13, 2014   |    comments
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GOLDEN - The president of the Jefferson County Education Association fully admits that an email was sent to all union members to rally support around and stage a protest at a school board meeting Saturday morning.

"We try to help teachers stay informed on what's going on," Amy Prichard, president of JCEA, said. "We feel that we needed to make sure members knew."

Saturday morning, the Jefferson County School Board held a meeting to discuss the resignation of Superintendent Cindy Stevenson. In November, she announced plans to leave the district June 30. Saturday, she announced accelerated plans to leave the district February 21 citing differences with the new school board. Ken Witt, Julie Williams, and John Newkirk won majority control of the board running on a conservative platform.

READ: Email sent to union members

During the meeting, protesters became so unruly that the meeting was cancelled early under advisement of district security. 9News received several emails from parents upset that an email was sent to union members which reads in part, "We are requesting that ALL JCEA MEMBERS show up to the Ed Center.... Wear black and bring signs that say 'DON'T DESTROY TRUST', 'WE DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY', 'OUR KIDS DESERVE BETTER'. 'THANK YOU, CINDY'."

Parents tell 9News this email shows that the theatrics at the school board meeting were all "union-coordinated."

"It's easy to blame stuff on the union," Prichard said.

She points out that the email told members to arrive at 10:30 a.m. which was the originally scheduled time for the hearing on Superintendent Stevenson. But, at the meeting, the agenda was changed to discuss Stevenson first. Prichard says many of her union members were not there yet.

While the crowd did consist of a lot of teachers' union members, there were also a significant number of parents, legislators and community members present to show their support for Stevenson because they feel she is being pushed out by the board. In addition to the union email, social media and other web sites also urged people to come to the meeting, not just teachers.

Prichard makes no apologies for union members expressing their opinion.

"We are very concerned about the results for kids," Prichard said. "Sometimes, you have to be vocal."

But, she says she was upset and surprised that the emotions escalated to the point where the meeting had to be adjourned early.

"We are professionals," Prichard said. "We need to act like professionals."

9News tried to reach Witt, the school board president. He did not return a call for comment.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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