Aug 1, 2022 - News

Denver school board marred by "mistrust and fear"

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Less than an hour from its start, the tension at a recent day-long Denver school board retreat was palpable.

  • "I absolutely feel the energy in this room of mistrust and fear and hesitation," an outside meeting facilitator told members.

Threat level: The board's first six months together have been marred by allegations of verbal abuse and misogyny, fears of a leadership coup and accusations of playing "oppression Olympics," our reporting partners at Chalkbeat write.

Why it matters: The board took the helm with expectations of unity because all the members were endorsed by the Denver teachers union.

  • Now community members and supporters are worried the vitriol will thwart goals to improve equity among students — the board members' top campaign issue.

The intrigue: The board, led by new president Xóchitl "Sochi" Gaytán, is struggling with personality conflicts and policy differences.

  • It can't even agree on whether members should call each other by their first names in work sessions.
  • And when it comes to bigger matters, such as how to gather community input, they are divided and hold events without other members.

What they're saying: "I don't see folks being willing to put their own goals aside to do right by kids," says Nicholas Martinez, co-founder of local advocacy group Transform Education Now.

What's next: The board took a break in July after its contentious June meeting with the facilitator. Its next gathering is a retreat Aug. 8.

Full story … from our partners at Chalkbeat


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