State board says 'no' to ending Adams 14's contract with consulting firm

Adams 14 says decision "marks one more example of disrespect of information" from the board

Posted

DENVER -- The Colorado State Board of Education denied Adams 14 School District's attempt to end its contract with MGT Consulting on Jan. 28.

The vote was 7-0.

"Given the district's recent failure to cooperate with its manager, we can't be sure that appointing a new lead partner would lead to improvements for the students," CDE said in a statement. "The state board must consider all statutory options for the district, including district reorganization, closing or chartering one or more schools or directing continued external management."

The district voted to end its contract earlier this month. 

The district's response was one of displeasure.

"Despite .. transparent communication with CDE, the Colorado State Board of Education inexplicably made disparaging remarks about the district's leadership, failed to refer to the board's proffered information and voted against the district's motion," said a district press release.

Low test scores have plagued Adams 14 schools for years. In September, the district commissioned an audit to analyze MGT's contract. The state department of education said it hasn't been shared with it or the state board of education.

In October, the Adams 14 school board said it returned to full compliance with the state-mandated takeover, but disagreed about payments. In December, CDE said it held a work session with the Adams 14 board. A day later, it asked for the district's forensic audit, a request that the board denied on the grounds it was ready for a criminal investigation.

Two days before a scheduled executive session with MGT to investigate a human-resources complaint about interference in the district's forensic audit, CDE said the district's human resources director told "a high-level district staff member" that the investigation backed up allegations of unethical behavior.

The district's investigation recommended terminations of two, high-level employees. The Adams 14 board received a copy of the findings, said the state department of education. CDE said the district's response was to order Andre Wright, MGT's senior vice president, to "cease and desist from his behavior and that Wright "took it upon himself to fire a cabinet-level employee," according to CDE notes.

In mid-January, the Adams 14 board banned Wright from the district "for blatant and repeated bad conduct and breach of contract," CDE's statement said. "Mr. Wright send a letter to the Adams 14 board, recommending that the local board accept the HR director's recommendation to terminate two high-level staff."

CDE's paperwork added the board was obligated to consider it.

Instead, CDE said, the board rejected the recommendation without a required "exemplary resolution." The next day, the Adams 14 board terminated the MGT contract "for cause," effective  April 11.

The district's statement said the state board used "selectively deceptive, incomplete and/or inaccurate information to justify decisions in support of a for-profit company."

"Moreover, the continued rhetoric of SBE Vice Chairman Steve Durham has demonstrated an animus and lack of objectivity toward the Adams 14 School District and community that call into question his actions," the district said in a statement. "Indeed, as recently as this month, Mr. Durham has made multiple inflammatory statements that appear to advocate for the disenfranchisement of the entire Adams 14 community, based on his own biases."

Adams 14 attorney Joseph Salazar filed a motion to disqualify Durham from further participation in discussions or votes. The district said the state board "abruptly voted to dismiss the motion."

The state board said it would review the state review panel's recommendation in March and said the district could present a proposal.

"But we are under no obligation to accept it," the board's statement said. It is "interested in hearing public comment on district reorganization and consolidation."

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