Apr 16, 2024 - News

Report: DPS superintendent Alex Marrero requiring NDAs for ex-employees

A man in a dark suit, gray dress shirt and red gingham-patterned necktie gestures with his hands while he speaks inside a room. People can be seen in the background.

Denver Public Schools superintendent Alex Marrero during a school board meeting in 2023. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Public Schools superintendent Alex Marrero is reportedly requiring employees to sign confidentiality agreements before receiving severance packages.

The latest: Former district spokesperson Will Jones said during a public comment portion at Monday night's school board meeting that he was asked to sign such an agreement after he was fired in February. He declined to sign it.

  • The agreement says former employees can't discuss their experience in the district for three years after their employment ends, per details first reported by the Denver Gazette.
  • Jones said the practice has become standard practice under Marrero's leadership.

Why it matters: Requiring a nondisclosure agreement could have a chilling effect on school employees' ability to discuss what happens inside a public department.

Context: NDAs are legally enforceable and are often used to ensure certain information remains confidential.

  • They're typically used in situations where employees have access to things like trade secrets and other sensitive information.

What they're saying: The district's NDAs "strictly adhere to Colorado law," which means that any rules in those agreements are legally compliant, district spokesperson Scott Pribble said in a statement to Axios.

  • "It is common for employers to offer severance to employees in exchange for certain protections in the form of a severance agreement," Pribble wrote in a statement.
  • The agreements often include clauses meant to serve as a "safeguard" for the district and the former employee, and seek to avoid "bad-mouthing" from both sides.

The other side: Jones, who worked in the district for nine years, told the Denver Gazette he wonders what the district is trying to keep from the school board by requiring the agreements.

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