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

Michael,

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.

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