Former Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee has been named head of a growing charter school network catering to immigrant and at-risk students.
McMinimee will start work for New America Schools in May “in an advisory superintendent capacity working as necessary on transitional activities,” according to the network’s announcement Tuesday.
He will officially take the superintendent role — the top job in the organization — on July 1, after his contract with Jeffco ends. McMinimee will replace Dominic DiFelice, who is retiring.
“It’s a great opportunity for me professionally,” McMinimee said.
The Jeffco school board voted in January to launch a search for a new superintendent while McMinimee still had six months left on his contract, signaling his tenure was coming to an end.
McMinimee and the board then reached a new agreement taking him out of the superintendent’s role but keeping him on the payroll in an advisory role through the end of June. Terminating the contract early would have required the district to pay McMinimee a full year’s salary.
The New America Schools network was founded in 2004 by millionaire entrepreneur Jared Polis of Boulder, now a Democratic U.S. congressman. The New America Schools charter network runs three high schools in Colorado serving more than 1,100 students, of which 80 percent qualify for free or reduced price lunch. The network also has two schools in New Mexico.
The schools are designated as alternative education campuses — or schools that are evaluated differently because they have a unique purpose and serve a challenging population, including students who may have dropped out of traditional schools. The network advertises its schools as specializing in serving immigrant students and those still learning English.
The Colorado schools have performed poorly in state evaluations. One of the campuses, in Thornton, could face state sanctions next year if it doesn’t show improvement.
“There’s no question there are some challenges,” McMinimee said. “But actually that’s one of the things that intrigued me to come in and help with.”
The Jeffco job was McMinimee’s first as a superintendent when he took the position three years ago. Before that, McMinimee worked in Douglas County School District as assistant superintendent for secondary education.