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This is the second in a two-part series on school board politics in the Denver suburbs. part 1

A slate of political novices in Douglas County, Colorado, told Granthshala News that divisive school board politics and COVID-19 protocols led them to put their names on the ballot for next month’s school board elections.

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“Never in my life I thought I would ever be honest for any office,” said first-time candidate Christy Williams. “But I’m at the point where it’s time to stand up and take back our school district.”

In two weeks, as Douglas County residents elect, three other candidates will join the Williams on Kids first slate: Mike Peterson, Becky Myers and Kaylee Winegar. Together, they seek to defeat the teachers’ union-backed Community Matters slate, which includes current board members Krista Holtzman and Kevin Leung, and newcomers Ruby Martinez and Julie Watkins.

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In Denver suburbs, parent equity platforms, school boards scramble with politics

Like Williams, Winegar never thought she would run for an elected office.

Winegar, an accountant, said, “Going ahead and being a candidate and putting myself out there for an elected position isn’t something I ever thought I’d do, but I got a lot of encouragement from friends, I’ve had a lot of fun.” prayed.” Granthshala News.

“It felt like if I didn’t move on, who would represent me on the board if it wasn’t me?” He continued.

Peterson, a leadership consultant, told Granthshala News that he chose to run because he felt a duty to help future students.

“I never ran for alternate office, I didn’t want to run for alternate office,” Peterson said. “I felt a calling because I think we need to get these growing generations of kids back on track, understanding that America has privilege and it’s a privilege to be an American.”

The Kids First Slate told Granthshala News they want to keep politics out of the classroom and unite the community, something they say the meeting board has failed to do.

“This board, whether they intend to or not, is putting in incredibly divisive policies,” Peterson said. “They’re putting parents against parents, parents against teachers.”

Winegar told Granthshala News: “I want to be sure when [my daughter] As she goes to school, she’s keeping her teachers focused on the fundamentals of academics—math, reading, writing, science, history—and it’s not distracting from the adult ideologies and personal politics in the classroom.”

The school board of the Denver suburb of Douglas County unanimously passed an equity policy in March, which the district said will “ensure that every DCSD student and staff member has access to equitable and rigorous educational opportunities” and aims to ensure that every DCSD student and staff member has access to an equity policy in the school. inequality has to be corrected. District.

Although Parents expressed concerns to Granthshala News that the equity policy could open the District to the teachings of critical race theory, the District said on its website that critical race theory is not part of its curriculum.

Peterson and Williams also told Granthshala News that their decision to run the district’s COVID-19 protocols was involved.

“I was one of those COVID candidates,” Peterson said. “I began listening to board meetings, speaking at board meetings, attending board meetings, and I found that what I thought was going to school reflected many of my values ​​or those of those around us. didn’t.”

Williams said that seeing her kids at school full time while other kids were left to learn inspired her to run.

“What really pushed me over the edge was watching the COVID response,” said Williams, who has owned a small dog training business for more than 15 years.

“My kids were in school five days a week last year, and my neighbor’s kids weren’t,” she continued. “They were outside riding their bikes while my kids were getting their full day’s education and it broke my heart to see that my kids, my kids, aren’t getting the same opportunities as other kids.”

The Douglas County School District announced a district-wide mask mandate before the school year begins. Despite protests, the district said its hands were tied because the order came from the local health department, which had jurisdiction over the school district.

Douglas County voted last month to drop the health department it shares with two neighboring counties in favor of starting its own agency. The new department rescinded the county-wide mask mandate.

But Douglas County School District Superintendent Corey Wise told Parents in early October that the mandate for the school district would remain in effect.

On October 8 the newly formed Douglas County Health Department went a step further by reversing the mandate and approved a policy that allowed parents to exempt their children from schools, including essential masks.

The Douglas County School District later issued guidance on its website, saying it would comply with the order.

“To clarify, the DCSD procedures for masking in schools remain in place, with the exception of a new opportunity for families to exempt their children from wearing masks,” the guidance states.

To correct last year’s divide around COVID-19 and equity policy, Williams said her first goal as a board member would be to bring people together.

“I think the first priority would just be to build trust with our teachers, with the community, really bring people back together,” she told Granthshala News. “A lot have happened against each other and it’s not good.”

Peterson said she hopes Douglas County can refocus on academic performance, something she believes should unite parents.

He told Granthshala News, “What Douglas County needs most is a focus on key aspects of education reform, development and achievement, and that’s something all political parties can agree on. “

Granthshala News extended interview requests to all eight candidates. A representative for Beth Myers told Granthshala News she was out of town on a previously scheduled visit. All four candidates on the Community Matter slate declined Granthshala News’ requests.