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Adams 12 board candidate disqualified

Updated – Amy Speers, a school board candidate in District 4 of the Adams 12-Five Star schools, has been disqualified because she doesn’t live in that district.

Adams 12 officials issued a statement Tuesday saying Speers “lives outside the boundaries of the specific director district for which she is running.” The statement said officials reviewed her eligibility after receiving “an inquiry.”

The statement also said, “It is the district’s practice to verify a candidate’s eligibility. An oversight was made, and the candidate’s residency was not verified. The district believes both parties operated in good faith.” (Read full statement here.)

District spokesman Joe Ferdani said the Adams 12 election officer did verify the residences of other candidates but didn’t check Speers.

Speers confirmed the disqualification to EdNews Wednesday, saying, “I am sorry for this oversight. I believed I was filing for the right district based on my eligibility to participate in the vacancy selection process for the same seat in 2011.

“On August 8, the Adams 12 School District’s designated election official confirmed that I met all of the legal requirements and would be an official candidate for District 4.”

Speers noted that District 4 boundaries changed in May 2012, after she was considered for the 2011 vacancy. “Even though I cannot take office, a vote for me makes a statement that we all believe cultivating relationships between teachers and parents is important in providing the best education for the students of Adams 12.”

Ferdani also said district boundaries changed last year and said Speers did live in the district before the change.

Her disqualification leaves incumbent Rico Figueroa as the sole eligible candidate in District 4. Speers was strongly supported by the District Twelve Educators Association, which gave her more than $30,000 in non-monetary contributions. The union has been involved in a long-running dispute with the current board and district administration over the amount of teacher pension contributions.

In a statement, the union said members “were shocked and disappointed to learn … that Adams 12-Five Star School District make a mistake earlier this summer when they informed Amy Speers that she met all the legal requirements and would be an official candidate.”

Union president Dorian De Long told EdNews that he doesn’t believe Speers or the district had any bad intentions in the matter but that the association and Speers are investigating whether there are any alternatives to her disqualification. Without offering specifics, De Long said, “We’re currently exploring … to see if there’s any other option. … This is uncharted territory.”

Four candidates are running for an open seat in District 3, which covers the northern part of Adams 12. They are Joshua Bastian, Debbie Christensen, David Elliott and Kathy Plomer, who also has received significant help from the union.

Board District 4 covers the extreme southeastern corner of Adams 12, east of Interstate 25 and south of East 112th Avenue.

Read bios of board candidates here.

While some Colorado school board members represent specific districts, as in Adams 12 and Denver, in many other districts members run at-large.

Residency problems have tripped up other board candidates in the past. Justin Ross, a candidate in the Bayfield district of southwestern Colorado, was disqualified last week because officials determined he didn’t live in the district but rather lives in the neighboring Ignacio district.

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