Category Archives: Far Northeast

DeFENSE hitting the streets

This video is already on the “internets,” but we’re presenting it here with the needed subtitles.  Thanks to Wade for originally shooting this footage!

What our parent organizers are saying here is pretty much our mission statement.  If you have any questions about who we are or what we’re about, it’s all right here.

Ms. Brown questions Sen. Johnston’s support of Easley’s conflict of interest

Ms. Earleen Brown is a well-respected member of the community.  We have reprinted her letter to state Senator Michael Johnston here with her permission.

January 31, 2011


I am saddened and disappointed to read that you are publicly supporting Nate Easley; by doing so, you are obviously and publicly supporting the conflicts of interest that exists as a result of (1) Nate Easley’s position as President of the Denver Public Schools Board of Directors and (2) Nate Easley’s position as Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation – at the same time.

Surely you have not forgotten (from our meetings and electronic communications) the intense ethical, legal, and financial battles that residents of Green Valley Ranch endured because of similar conflicts of interest that existed when one T.J. Stone served as (1) board member and President of the GVR Metropolitan District Board of Directors as well as (2) board member and President of the Homeowners Association of Green Valley Ranch – at the same time.

I was President of the GVR Metropolitan District during the time when the community was devastated by the conflicts of interest imposed upon it by one T.J. Stone. I and other community leaders met with you, Michael Hancock, and Angela Williams during those many months of community turmoil. Angela has taken action – she has introduced a Bill which “prohibits individuals from serving concurrently on the board of directors for a metropolitan district and HOA within that district. The bill also requires HOA members to abstain from voting on issues where they or their family would benefit financially”.

A notation on my property tax statement (2010 real estate tax due in 2011) reads: “60% OF THESE TAXES ARE DETERMINED BY AND COLLECTED FOR THE DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS.”

I am apposed to the current DPS turnaround/closure plans. I support public, neighborhood schools. I support the right of every child to have an opportunity to receive a high quality education.

In determining your support of the DPS turnaround/closure plans, I hope you examined the full impact that the plan would have on our public neighborhood schools and community here in Far Northeast.

In determining your support of the DPS turnaround/closure plans, certainly you examined, discovered, can explain and provide details:

(1) How approximately 1600 seats currently at Montbello High School can be reduced to approximately 300 seats in 2012 without the loss of approximately 1300 seats. Where will those 1300 seats go?

(2) How and where all seats affected by the DPS plan will be filled within the DPS boundaries, without loss of students, and without “busing” students outside their neighborhoods.

(3) Current # of DPS student enrollments per school and per grade.

(4) Current # of students living within DPS boundaries, but attending schools outside of DPS boundaries.

(5) List/contrast per school and per grade, the current student enrollment and any changes (per school, per grade, positive and negative) that will take place as as a result of the DPS plan.

(6) List/contrast the dollar value of current student enrollment/seats in each DPS school and per grade, versus any financial changes/influences (positive or negative) that will be realized by imposing the DPS turnaround/closure plans.

(7) If and how my taxes will be impacted by the evidential loss of public education seats/students in the Far Northeast.

In determining your support of Nate Easley, certainly you can explain why you support:
(1) Easley’s conflict of interest,
(2) Easley’s violation of state open meetings law,
(3) Easley’s violation of open records law
(4) Easley not being responsive and representative of constituents in his district.

Thank you.

Earleen Brown


A little background context:

For more than 30 years, the schools in the greater Montbello area have languished in neglect by the DPS central administration, woefully under-resourced and shoved to the side. At Montbello High School alone, they have had 8 principals in the last 10 years. Now, after the neglect that has caused weak academic performance, the district finally responds by pushing through a complete hostile takeover of the area’s schools. The DPS administration’s solution for neglect has been to close schools, phase out and displace school populations and completely ignore the wishes of the community.

The changes now ratified by the DPS school board for the greater Montbello area are:

  • Ford Elementary: Replace with Denver Center for International Studies ECE-5 program
  • Green Valley Elementary: Hire new principal and staff
  • McGlone Elementary: Hire new staff under newly hired principal
  • Oakland Elementary: Replace with SOAR charter elementary school
  • Rachel B. Noel Middle: Phase out the current program for seventh- and eighth-graders while starting a new 6-12 arts program with 100 students per grade that will grow one grade a year. Also, co-locate a KIPP middle school within the building.
  • Montbello High School: Phase out the current program while starting a 9-12 collegiate prep academy for 150 to 200 students per grade that will grow one grade per year. Also, co-locate a new Denver Center for International Studies 6-12 school within the building. Also open a high-tech early college.

Keep in mind that these changes are being foisted upon the community after a sham community process.  They will result in many of the area’s children having to apply to attend school in buildings they could freely attend unencumbered before.  If they are not accepted, they will have to go somewhere else to school, perhaps even across town.

Also keep in mind that a significant number of these children are English-language learners, and according to the court order that DPS must satisfy, there must be language support services for each of these students.  However, none of the new proposed programs actually provides these services as mandated, and the charter schools are not required to provide them.

Keep coming back here to learn more about the situation, and how Nate Easley’s conflict of interest causes him to vote against the needs of his community 100% of the time.

It’s time to take back our schools.

Dear Nate: do you know about the problems at Rachel B. Noel?

No, probably not.  But here is an inside report for your information.  It came in from one of our parent organizers.

I feel that people gathering recall signatures need to know that:

  • Nate Easley or any other board members did not visit Rachel B. Noel last fall, even when our Open House was posted on the DPS website, and when it was well known that we had just begun implementing a federal turnaround grant.  Wouldn’t the president of the school board want to know what’s going on at a school before he or she voted for sweeping changes?
  • DPS’s solution for co-locating three schools in this building is to divide the RBN library, a focal point of the building, into classrooms!  Has Nate Easely or any of the board members he leads seen the plans?  Do they agree with the plan to completely phase out the library? And, this re-location solution won’t even work past year 3–the building is not big enough.
  • Easley was on the FNE committee–did it not raise a red flag for him when A+ sent out an e-mail survey to committee members and community members at 5:00 on a Friday evening of a 4 day DPS weekend?  The survey was due back Monday at noon, 1.5 days before the staff and many of the parents would be accessible.  If he really represented the community, wouldn’t he want real, meaningful community engagement?
  • Many of the comments written by Noel staff, parents and community partners at the FNE meetings never made their way to the committee members or DPS staff now in charge of implementing the new plan.  Did Nate Easley ask after each FNE meeting to see the comments being made by his constituents?
  • New principals have been or are being selected at several FNE schools, through a process which is apparently not transparent and does not align with the district’s standard principal selection process.  Several FNE principals voiced their concern about the way in which decisions are being made at a recent principal’s meeting, the minutes of which were recorded by……..Oakwood Homes
  • The school board is responsible for hiring the superintendent and making sure he or she implements board policy and district strategies effectively.  Who is in charge?  Is Boasberg calling the shots while the board rubber stamps every idea?
  • Nearly 2/3 of the staff will be reduced in the next two weeks.  Even though they said Noel would “continue the transformation”, our student projections will force such major staff reductions that our transformation/phase out plan will change significantly.
  • In addition to the conflict of interest being cited by the recall committee, I think the community needs to know how little the board was involved in this process, even though Easley was “on the committee”.  I know most of this is not new to you, but the more I think about what a mess this is, I feel the community needs to understand that they are not being well represented.

What’s your response, Nate Easley?

Where’s Nate Easley now?

Look who’s showing up to important-looking mayoral candidate forums during working hours way across town from his own district…

An emailed invitation from KIPP schools. Click to enlarge.

Isn’t he supposed to be at work at 8:30 a.m. on a Friday? Is the Denver Scholarship Program giving him time off for board business?

If he’s got time for these important appearances as a “special guest,” why doesn’t he have time to return calls or show up to meetings in his own community?

And to make matters worse, they’ve even got the logo of the new charter school that’s replacing Rachel B. Noel Middle School, which he voted for.  But community doesn’t realize that their kids can’t automatically go to that school now.  If they’re not accepted, they have to try to find some other middle school for their kids…maybe even across town.

It’s too late, Nate.

Protesting corporate takeover of public education is nationwide

You see, taking back our schools is not just something we do in Denver.  It’s happening all over the country.  Watch this video.  Internalize what the protesters are pointing out about NYC schools.

Doesn’t it sound familiar?

The time to take back our schools for our kids has arrived.  The petition to recall northeast Denver school board member, Nate Easley, has been approved, and this weekend we’ll be talking to voters for the first time.  It’s an entirely grassroots effort.  There is no money to pay campaign workers.  We have nothing to defend our children’s futures except our hands and our hearts.  Will you take back our schools with us?
It makes no difference what part of Denver you live in.  EVERY DPS STUDENT is being affected by the top-down, community-crushing decisions being made at central administration.  Every community is facing the prospect of weak academic programs, dictatorial principals, tone-deaf school board representation and misguided experimentation on our children and their futures.  And worst of all, NONE OF THEIR “REFORMS” ARE WORKING. Will you take back our schools with us?
With the election of Nate Easley in November 2009, neighborhood schools won.  Even though he’s turned his back on the community that raised him, we can win again by holding Easley accountable for his eggregious conflict of interest that only props up a bloated central administration that soaks up 50% of every education dollar and further weakens our children’s chances for success.  A community-driven reform of our schools is possible.  It’s happening in our district right now.  Will you take back our schools with us?
Click on the green button to the right to help us hold Nate Easley accountable.

Yellow Journalism at the Denver Post

by Ed Augden (retired DPS teacher and community activist)

If there is truly to be a civil, honest discussion of educational reform and related issues such as the proposed recall of  Nate Easley, Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education president, then the Denver Post must be civil and honest  in its news coverage and its editorial commentary. The Denver Post’s editorial on Sunday, Jan. 23, was not civil or fully honest. The editorial writer ridiculed the petition complainants and made the fallacious claim that the recall effort is primarily focused on Easley’s votes as a board member for certain “reform” actions in northeast Denver (his district) and northwest Denver.  Certainly, the writer must have read the petition’s language. It states clearly that the primary reason for the recall effort is Easley’s apparent conflicts of interest.

Mr. Easley is the deputy director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation. In his role as board  president, he directly oversees the foundation. As an employee of the foundation, he reports to the executive director of the foundation. Both Tom Boasberg, DPS superintendent, and Theresa Pena are board members of the scholarship foundation. Thus, the roles overlap and Easley is in the position of being Boasberg’s employer and employee. In such conflicting roles, Easley should recuse himself from voting on Boasberg’s evaluation or salary. He has failed to do so and has, consequently, violated DPS board policy and state law, according to the petition complainants.

The editorial writer completely omitted the principal reason for the recall effort. Certainly, Easley’s votes have directly contradicted his campaign promises and those are legitimate concerns.  However, as the petition clearly states, Easley’s apparent conflicts of interest are the reasons stated, not his voting record.

This pattern of deceit by both the Denver Post and DPS administrators and the board’s majority members is familiar to residents of northeast and northwest Denver. The proposed plan for northeast  Denver is familiar to students, parents, teachers and interested community members. In 2006, DPS, supported by the Post, implemented the “redesign” of North High School. The principal, in the process of implementing an improvement plan, was reassigned, the faculty required to reapply for their positions (most declined to do so) and a new principal transferred from a nearby elementary school. During the two years of “redesign”, many students were traumatized when they returned for the fall semester to new teachers and counselors and a new principal. During the new principal’s tenure, test scores declined (Isn’t testing a primary “reform”?), the dropout rate increased and the school population declined. North High has failed to recover. Yet, nothing of this failure ever appeared in Denver Post news stories or was commented upon by its editorial writers. And, of course, DPS simply ignored the results, quietly reassigned the new principal to her former position and has yet to acknowledge the plan’s utter failure. Boasberg’s only public comment about these actions is that lessons, although not identified or qualified, have been learned. Have Post reporters or editorial writers ever questioned Boasberg, his subordinates or board members about these schemes?

As a former journalism teacher in Denver Public Schools, I know that newspapers should adhere to a journalistic code of ethics. The Denver Post has failed that code in its reporting and commentary of educational issues in DPS. The Easley editorial is just the latest instance in which the newspaper failed to be a beacon for the pursuit of truth, fairness and impartiality, reporting and commenting upon educational issues. As mentioned, nothing of the North High fiasco ever received coverage in the Denver Post. The same pattern is being repeated in northeast Denver. The Post has yet to raise any questions or concerns about the upcoming “turnaround” of Montbello High School and other schools in northeast

As the only remaining major daily newspaper in the Denver metro area, doesn’t the Denver Post have the responsibility to be truthful, fair and impartial in reporting the news and shouldn’t the same standard be applied to commentary?

Denver rebuts the Denver Post

The tide has definitely turned against corporate-reform darling, Nate Easley.  But don’t take our word for it.  Read just a few of the letters to the editor and other pieces written in response to the cloying propaganda printed by the Denver Post to try to save him.

These are the letters that the Denver Post are too afraid to publish.  Read on…

Dear Editor,

I am one of the 190 who were rubber stamped for non-renewal last May. Dr. Easley, School Board President, not only rubber stamped all principals’ decisions despite the public showing at the May meeting but condemned the two board members that stood up for the nationally certified and highly qualified experienced personnel that were up for non-renewal.

Even more concerning is his current conduct regarding Montbello. It is easy for DCIS and other magnet schools to look perfect because they only take the students that fit best into their program and conveniently as well as legally get rid of any student that does not make them look great. To be fair Denver Post should report the number of students originally accepted into magnet schools that do not graduate from that school. But then, with my ties to DC politics, I don’t expect any news agency to present a balanced point of view.

DPS is completely within it’s legal rights to ignore parents wishes, non-renew highly qualified/nationally certified experienced personnel, and will continue on its current path with the support of Dr. Easley, Mr. Boasberg and the rest of Grant Street or Fox Street.

I personally have moved on to better districts and better jobs, but I had the flexibility as a single person without children with a paid for home and car, to live off of unemployment until January 2011.

–Ms. B.

This is a classic game disinformation and propaganda by the Post and the “reformers.” Every time someone is against their interests, they take out the bogeyman, the union.  It’s such a lie.  The right and the middle see unions as bad, so it’s a great way to distract from the argument of Nate being a patsy for the status quo.

It’s not a union vs. Nate/”reformers” battle, but a battle against 5 years of incompetence vs. real improvement.  The reformers and Nate want the status quo, which is effectively bankrupting our future.  Our side wants revolutionary change, something reformers haven’t been able to give us after 5 years of empty promises.  As for the union, they are as weak as most every union in this country and they are not the motivating force behind the recall.  It’s people who are fed up waiting for these dramatic changes that Bennet/Boasberg have promised who are behind the recall.

–Mr. W.

To the Denver Post:

The editorial deriding the recall of Denver School Board president Nate Easley reads like an effort to disenfranchise parents from neighborhood schools. It is parents who want neighborhood schools strengthened rather than closed and replaced. It is parents who don’t accept the only option for school reform is a privatized charter. It is parents–not unions and teachers–who show up at DPS’s “input” meetings, only to realize DPS secretly plans school closures far in advance with a charter already chosen, and  such meetings are complete hooey. It is parents who experience the district’s failure to support what works (a successful math program) or remove what doesn’t (inept principals) and then watch in horror as DPS and its board deems the school a failure and replaces it with an unproven charter.

The district has stonewalled parents for so long that the Post shouldn’t underestimate the number of angry people. Easley’s transgression is not his beliefs about reform, but his failure to acknowledge what his constituents want for their children’s schools. His recall is about Denver parents regaining a voice in their schools.

–Ms. A.

Dear Editorial Staff of the Denver Post,

Please find below my letter in regard to yesterday’s editorial, “School board member’s recall would be setback.”

U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has the Denver Post’s Editorial Board as speed dial number two, right behind that of DPS Superintendent, Tom Boasberg.  It seems that those who live and send their kids to schools in suburban America believe that they know more about fixing urban public schools than the parents whose children attend those neighborhood schools.  Hundreds of us parents have volunteered countless hours in Denver’s neighborhood schools solely to benefit the kids.  We know how to fix Denver’s schools.  When will our superintendent come to us for help and advice?  When will our school board members stand up to our superintendent and demand that he fix our neighborhood schools rather than pronounce them failures and replace them with privately-run institutions?  Does the Rocky Mountain News have to come back to life to force the Denver Post to return to good journalism?  That is no joke.


–Mrs. T.
DPS Parent & Graduate

And one of our favorite allies, Sabrina Stevens Shupe, just penned a wonderfully eloquent indictment of Easley.  As she says,”…good leaders make sure to stay connected to those they serve, to make a case for why change is necessary, and to do their best to ensure that the final decision reflects the whole community’s interests, not just those of its most powerful members, or those with whom they already agree.”  We certainly agree with that sentiment.

Read Sabrina’s smackdown of Nate Easley here.  As one of our core organizers likes to say, “no, no Nate!”

The Denver Post props up Nate Easley

(originally sent via email – sign up for our newsletter to the right)

The Denver Post thinks we’re a joke.  They say that we’re just a “handful of people” that want to hold Easley accountable.  Well, as you know from our reports about the unrest and push-back in response to the hostile takeover of the greater Montbello schools, it’s not just a handful.  It’s an entire community, and Easley is feeling it.  He even now claims he attended a meeting with parents recently!

Well, it’s about time, Nate.  But it’s too little, too late.

Here’s how to push back even more

We need your  help in responding to the mythology that the Denver Post is hawking.  Choose one or all of the following actions:

  • Please go to the online version of the article (you can find it here) and post a comment in rebuttal.
  • Please send a letter to the editor (the instructions are at the bottom of this email).
  • Write an article on your favorite education, community-centered or political blog.
  • Share this email with friends using this link: Forward to a Friend.

We’re providing the talking points you can use in your piece, below.

How to send a letter to the Denver Post editors

E-mail: (straight text only; no attachments)

Mail: The Open Forum, The Denver Post, 101 W. Colfax Ave., Suite 600, Denver, CO 80202

Fax: 303-954-1502

Guidelines: The Post welcomes letters up to 150 words on topics of general interest. Letters must include full name, home address, day and evening phone numbers, and may be edited for length, grammar and accuracy.

To reach the Denver Post editorial page by phone: 303-954-1331

And don’t forget to copy us on your submission!

Talking points from the “Take back our schools” campaign

The Take Back Our Schools Campaign for DeFENSE (Democrats for Excellent Neighborhood School Education) is a coalition of parents, educators & students leading a grassroots effort in Northeast Denver and Montbello to recall DPS Board of Education president Nate Easley for:

  • Being a rubber stamp for the school district, voting nearly 100% the time with corporate backed members of the school board for policies that are not reflective of his constituents’ interests
  • Saying he would promote neighborhood schools during his campaign, then when elected voting to increase the number of corporate charter schools
  • Saying he would work with teachers collaboratively during his campaign, then when elected conspiring with school officials to fire groups of teachers without a fair process
  • Not being responsive to the concerns of the Montbello parents and students when he voted to shut down neighborhood schools without a comprehensive transition plan for students
  • Being a “no show” at numerous Northeast Denver community meetings hosted by the school district or concerned community groups
  • He did not show up at 3 community meetings held between Oct 2010-Jan 2011 sponsored by the school district to discuss the future vision of schools in Northeast Denver
  • He did not show up last year to any of the community meeting at Manual High School during the principal search process
  • He did not show up last year to confirmed community-led meetings with the Black Education Advisory Council, the Northeast Community Congress for Education or with concerned Montbello parents
  • Holding secret meetings that should have been open to the public in violation of the state’s open meetings law requiring transparency when school district policy is being made;
  • He misused the law in an attempt to censure (publicly reprimand) 3 progressive school board members who were invited by a lawyers group to attend an education information meeting
  • Engaging in a conflict of interest in his dual roles as DPS Board of Education president and as the Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation where he is employed and subject to undue influence related to his votes by school officials who sit on his board (superintendent Tom Boasberg and board member Theresa Pena).
  • Using the resources of the his employer, the Denver Scholarship Foundation, to conduct school board business
  • Hired a staffer paid for by his employer to conduct DPS public relations business in the community
  • Used his employer’s administrative resources to manage his DPS administrative tasks

Thank you for everything you do to ensure an equitable education is available for EVERY child.

The DeFENSE Team

Recall against Nate Easley, and the campaign for northeast Denver kids, has begun

The initial steps to put a recall of Nate Easley on the May ballot has started.  A coalition of northeast Denver residents filed the following proposed language for the ballot:

We the qualified voters of Denver Public School District 4 demand the recall of current elected Denver Public Schools Board of Education member Dr. Nate Easley. Our demand is based on Mr. Easley’s activities related to conflicts of interest and allowing these to effect his representation of his District 4 constituency. Specifically, Dr. Easley’s roles as DPS Board of Education president and his job as Deputy Director of the Denver Scholarship Foundation make him subject to undue influence related to his votes as our representative. As a board member, Dr. Easley supervises the DPS superintendent, who also serves as on the DSF Board of Directors, thereby having direct influence over Dr. Easley’s employment. As Deputy Director of DSF, Dr. Easley receives a substantial salary, the threat to which compromises his ability to independently represent District 4. As a result, Dr. Easley has consistently voted for policies that are not reflective of his constituents’ interests, closing schools, supporting an atmosphere of distrust among District employees, and failing to provide sound fiscal oversight of DPS monies.

So what does this mean?  Once the language is approved, then community has 60 days to collect 5,363 signatures to place the issue on the ballot.  At that point, candidates who choose to run against Easley can step forward and collect their own signatures (they only need 50) to appear on the ballot as the replacement candidate.

THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN. We need help to collect signatures from eligible voters, and you don’t need to live in northeast Denver to help.  We have a meeting/training scheduled for this coming Saturday, Here are the details:

Saturday,  January 22
9 a.m.
Oleta Crain Center, 2102 Marion Street, Denver (here’s a map)
Petition-gathering training and information meeting

This is also a great opportunity for parents to speak up about concerns they have, about the turnarounds in Montbello, as well as what’s coming to near Northeast Denver.  Read the Denver Post article about the recall here.

Will you join us?  Click here to RSVP.  We can’t set the course aright for our schools without your help.  Please help us stand up and say “No More”!

More turmoil at Montbello High School

A mom from Montbello writes:

The students of Montbello were going to have a walk out the week after the vote on the school turnaround.  The admin and police of the school stopped them from doing it.  They blocked doors and made their presence known on the outside of the building.  I was there to observe this.  I also observed many admin escorting kids back into the school.  The students were told on the inside that they would be suspended if they carried this out.

Mr. Smith and his VP/admin are threatening students, ie…

On Fri. Dec 10th there were several fights.  One in particular involved two girls.  Mr. Smith went to break it up and took a right hook in his face by one of the girls.  Some of the students were saying things like “Way to go”, “You got him”, “Smith can’t break up two girls fighting”, and they laughed, just typical things kids will say and do.  Smith then threaten the bystanders with suspensions.  Apparently if the students breath wrong or say something the admin doesn’t like they will threaten suspension.  They students are walking on egg shells.  The kids feel like it is prison and not school any longer.

Weekly staff meetings are NO longer attended by Mr. Smith and he is the one that is to be leading the meeting.

The new principal of Montbello for next year has been asked several questions as to what really is going to happen with the school for the last three attending classes and teachers.  They have NO answers as to what is happening.  Their response is that they haven’t been given any answers by DPS.

All scores, attendance etc. are up significantly and NO one wants to acknowledge this.

Smith and DPS won’t talk to the staff about any of this.  Teachers have tried to make appointments with Smith and he will cancel at the last minute or not show up at all.  He has gone as far as to not answering phone calls.  The teachers are being ignored.

The teachers and students have found out that there aren’t going to be busses for the rest of the year for sports or any extracurricular activities.  They were told that there is NO money for that.  What was done with the money?  Funny enough there is money for their special interest programs, the flop of the “Open House” they had.

The remainder of Montbello, Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, for next year will only have ½ the classes than what they have in place.  Apparently they are only going to have the core or basic classes.  Where are all these kids/students going to go.  We as parents can’t be taking our kids across the city to a different school.  These students and teachers are being thrown out of their school.

Mom went on to say, “The teachers I talk to and many other people are very upset, frustrated, and to the point of tears as am I.  I hold it back at the meetings and in front of people.  One more thing: the teachers already know that 1/2 of them are without a job, due to the class cut backs for the remainder of the classes next year.  This sucks.”

This report makes it painfully obvious just how deficient the “implementation plan that never was” really is.  Has Principal Smith taken up fly fishing?  Where is the district’s oversight in ensuring the school faces as little turmoil as possible while it moves through the rest of the year?  How are kids supposed to learn in an environment like this?