Over 5,000 Northeast Denver Residents Support the Recall of
DPS Board of Education President and District 4 Representative Nate Easley
Denver, CO – Over 5,000 Northeast Denver, Montbello and Green Valley Ranch residents signed their names in support of recalling DPS Board of Education President and District 4 Representative Nate Easley due to his conflict of interest resulting in his failure to independently and adequately represent Northeast families. Easley is employed as the deputy director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation whose board members include Denver Public Schools (DPS) officials Theresa Pena and Tom Boasberg, strong proponents of shutting down or phasing out under-resourced public schools and converting them into privatized charter schools as part of the DPS “turnaround” strategy. There are now more residents that want Easley out of office, than the approximately 4,500 people that voted to elect him.
Support for the recall was particularly strong in the Montbello-area since many of those families have already felt the impact of school closures and seat reductions. Many parents reported that their children were “waitlisted” on more than one list after lotteries were held to determine enrollment placements for the 2011-2012 academic year. Parents expressed extreme frustration and even anger that they had fewer “choice” options now despite filling out enrollment forms early. Previously, parents could readily enroll their children into neighborhood schools, and those schools openly accepted them regardless of their needs, challenges and abilities. Now, entire families have been shut out of the smaller and more selective charter schools. Parents have been left scrambling to find options for siblings who will be dispersed across the Far Northeast area, searching for schools that will accept all of their children. Potentially, hundreds of children will be displaced and forced to attend schools outside of their neighborhoods and even outside of the District into neighboring Adams & Arapahoe counties. Parents also reported that their phone calls were not being returned from DPS representatives, including from Easley.
“We have talked to more of Nate Easley’s constituents in the past 60 days than he has talked to during his entire eighteen months in office,” stated recall spokesperson John McBride. A volunteer grassroots coalition of parents, grandparents, educators, and neighbors joined together for nearly two months to gather the required signatures. McBride explained that the dedicated and unfunded group of diverse volunteers reached thousands of residents, despite the avalanche of money that poured into Easley’s bank account to help him fend off the recall.
Another sore point for residents was the high number of teacher firings that have occurred under Easley’s watch. In the past 18 months, Easley has supported the closure of seven public schools and was complicit in putting 400 teachers’ jobs in jeopardy when there was no objective evidence that the teachers were incompetent. “In this difficult economy, our elected officials should not be in the business of putting people out of work, especially dedicated and hard-working public servants like our public school teachers,” stated Mary Sam, a retired DPS teacher and recall volunteer. Recall organizers encountered many teachers who privately supported the recall, but who were too afraid to sign recall petitions due to the environment of fear and intimidation within DPS.
Easley has received over $35,000 in contributions to his recall campaign; however, almost none of the donors listed live in Easley’s district. Almost $20,000 of those contributions came from Denver Scholarship Fund board members, the very same people that ultimately oversee his employment at DSF. Scott Reiman, Jack Kim, David Scanavino, Terry Leprino, Barbara Grogan and Steve Kris are all on the DSF Board. One donor, Wesley Brown, is a co-director of St. Charles Capital along with Easley’s school board colleague Bruce Hoyt, another proponent of charter schools. In addition, Montbello-area development corporation Oakwood Homes donated a hefty $5,000 to help Easley fight off his own constituents. When told about Nate’s big money contributions, one Northeast parent commented, “It certainly reinforces the growing belief that Nate Easley is ‘bought and paid for’ by corporate interests.”
Recall organizers will hold a press conference Tuesday as they prepare to submit and report their final signature tally on March 29, 2011 3:30pm in front of the Denver Election Commission office at 200 W. 14th Ave. Due to inconsistencies in the voter registration lists, recall organizers encourage signers to check their voter registration status by clicking on the red “Register to Vote” button at http://www.defensedenver.com.