as presented to the North City Park Community Association meeting on February 22
Dear Neighbors of the North City Park Community:
Many of you may have recently been reading in the Denver Post about the campaign to recall Nate Easley, Ph.D., current president of the Denver Public School Board. Unfortunately, the authors of these opinion pieces have presented their views without contacting community groups to verify their suppositions for the genesis of this initiative. I want to take a few minutes to inform you of the real issues that caused members of the community to take this course of action as it relates to Dr. Easley’s performance as the representative of the Greater Northeast District of Denver. Many of the community members involved with this action are former supporters of Dr. Easley and campaigned on his behalf in his election campaign.
- Dr. Easley appears to have a conflict of interest with his additional position as Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation while DPS Board member Theresa Pena serves on the governing board of the Foundation and DPS Superintendent Boasberg is an ex-officio member. As President of the DPS Board, Dr. Easley is responsible to provide oversight and supervision to the Superintendent, while the Superintendent and Board member Pena have influence on the policies that could affect Dr. Easley’s continued employment/salary with the Foundation. There is no record that any of these people have recused themselves from participating directly or indirectly in policy decision making or voting in matters that influence performance review, compensation, or continued employment with both organizations. It appears Easley has accessed resources of the Foundation to conduct DPS business.
- Dr. Easley has held secret meetings in violation of the state’s Open Meetings Law. He has also failed to provide public notice of meetings where school board policy was discussed or developed. He has misused the law in an attempt to publicly reprimand three pro-community DPS board members. He repeatedly violated the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA) when he denied parents’ requests for school finance records.
- Dr. Easley consistently misses meetings with and ignores the concerns of members of the greater Northeast community, the constituency group that elected him. He was the deciding vote for DPS to shut down, phase out, and replace public neighborhood schools with private charter schools in Northeast Denver. He does not return phone calls or emails from concerned parents. Between October 2010 and January 2011 Nate Easley failed to appear at numerous meetings with concerned community members to discuss the future of public/neighborhood based schools in Northeast Denver. Some excuses given for missing these meetings have been “entry of meeting was not made in his blackberry” or, with a meeting scheduled and confirmed two weeks in advance, community members learned the day before that he would be out of town. At a public meeting at the Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center in the spring of 2010, a seminar was held on the education of black students in Northeast Denver. At that meeting Dr. Easley stated emphatically, “If people don’t like the way DPS is being run, they should let their feet start walking!” Do you think this is appropriate behavior for a responsible, elected representative for our community?
In his campaign for election to the DPS school board, Dr. Easley talked of his commitment to support neighborhood schools. His voting record, however, shows a 100% commitment, with the Superintendent and corporate-backed board members, to closing neighborhood schools and replacing them with charter or magnet schools or no school at all. The Denver Post opinion pieces talked about Easley’s desire to help disadvantaged students to be successful. Where is the evidence to support such opinions?! These students need classroom teachers of color as inspiration and role models. Under Dr. Easley’s administration layoffs of teachers and DPS staff have occurred. This has had a dramatic adverse effect on senior African-American teachers in the district with no prior record of corrective or disciplinary action, having been targeted by district personnel department. Termination or forced retirement of these teachers creates a real void in a population of educators whose numbers have been on a steady decline, even as the population of students of color has risen for the past 10 years.
The petition to recall Nate Easley was initiated by members of the Greater Northeast Denver Community. This is truly a grass roots effort to correct an untenable situation. While we cannot question Dr. Easley’s motives for seeking a position on the DPS school board, we can question his sincerity in representing the interests of the constituent community. He has the right to change his mind on the issues on which he built his election campaign. In turn, the people who elected him can change their collective minds and recall a representative who does not take time to be involved with their concerns and issues or represent their interests.
If you are in agreement, we need your help. If you need more information, contact us at email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Glenn R. Hanley, Ph.D.