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Tuesday Churn: New DCTA suit response

Updated – The legal volleys continue in the battle between Denver Public Schools and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association on the subject of innovation schools, with the union’s filing on Monday of a response to the district’s earlier motion for dismissal of a lawsuit.

The DCTA sued the district in June over DPS’s approval of 10 new innovation schools, most of them in Denver’s Far Northeast, claiming that they were green-lighted in defiance of key provisions in the 2008 Innovation School Act.

That law requires that at least a 60 percent majority of the staffs at the affected schools vote their support of innovation status; the union’s contention is that DPS broke the law by seeking innovation status for the schools before their staffs were in place – preventing such a vote from being taken.

The union, representing roughly 4,000 DPS teachers, is asking that a judge either reverse the granting of the schools’ innovation status or that votes of the schools’ staffs now be taken.

In its motion to dismiss, DPS had argued that “mandamus” ­ a court order to a government entity ­ cannot be used to force a government body, such as the school district, to undo something which has already been done, as the union was asking. “It can neither be used to invalidate an action already taken nor to prevent an official from performing an action in the future,” the district had contended.

But the union’s new filing argues otherwise. Saying the district acted “unilaterally” in approving the schools, it asserts “there was no opportunity” for the DCTA to be heard during the decision-making process, leaving an after-the-fact reversal by the courts as its only legal remedy.

Lawyers for DPS now have until Sept. 26 to file a reply brief to the latest DCTA filing, after which District Judge Ann B. Frick is expected to set a hearing date for the district’s motion to dismiss the action.

Read the latest DCTA filing in the case here.

What’s churning:

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock this morning sent a clear signal that he will endorse candidates in at least some of the three Denver school board races.

Speaking to a meeting of the A-Plus Denver citizens group, Hancock said it is “more than likely I will make endorsements.” He said he has interviewed all but one candidate for the three contested seats and will decide whom to endorse once the interviews are complete.

As a candidate for mayor earlier this year, Hancock made Denver Public Schools a campaign issue, even though the mayor has no control over the school district. Hancock told A-Plus members he did so against the advice of some of his advisors, because he believes a stronger school system would have a positive impact on all other aspects of the city.

In the city-wide at-large race, where the seat is open, Hancock would choose among five candidates: John Daniel, Frank Deserino, Happy Haynes, Roger Kilgore and Jacqui Shumway. In southeast Denver’s District 1, Anne Rowe and Emily Sirota are vying for the open seat. And in northwest Denver’s District 5, Jennifer Draper Carson is taking on incumbent Arturo Jimenez.

Hancock also told A-Plus that despite his campaign’s focus on DPS, and his likely endorsements, he has no designs on mayoral control of the school system.

“Between me and my God, there is no way I want to run the schools,” he said.

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