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Group agrees to stop using term ‘for-profit charter’ in election material after complaints from DSST

Sixth-graders at DSST: College View answer questions during class in 2014.
Sixth-graders at DSST: College View answer questions during class in 2014.
Andy Cross, Denver Post

An independent committee trying to sway a Denver school board race has agreed to stop saying a “for-profit charter school” is moving into a DPS campus in northeast Denver.

As Chalkbeat reported last week, a teachers union-funded independent expenditure committee called Brighter Futures for Denver Students made the claim in an election mailer that Northfield High School was “ceding space” to a for-profit charter.

The DPS school board in December voted to locate a school run by nonprofit charter school network DSST in a building separate from Northfield’s on the same district-owned property.

Bill Kurtz, CEO of DSST, said a DSST lawyer contacted the committee, which agreed “not to use that messaging in any digital advertising or in any future printed mailings.” Kurtz earlier criticized the mailer as “categorically untrue.”

Longtime Denver Democratic political consultant Steve Welchert, who is working as a campaign consultant for Brighter Futures for Denver Students, confirmed the committee had agreed to no longer use the language. But he did not disown the description, either.

“Their IRS designation is not all that matters here when you describe how people make money and how money moves among different entities,” Welchert said, declining to elaborate.

State records show that as of Wednesday, the Brighter Futures for Denver Students committee had spent more than $138,000 to back the candidacy in northeast Denver of Jennifer Bacon, who has the Denver union’s endorsement. The mail in question targeted incumbent Rachele Espiritu.

Recent high school graduate Tay Anderson is also vying for the seat, and used a video posted on Facebook to criticize the mailer as unfair.

Read more about the issues and people running for the northeast Denver District 4 seat here, and watch for more coverage in Chalkbeat on Tuesday on the next batch of public disclosures about how much money independent committees are bringing in and spending.

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