Colorado

Monday Churn: Lobato appeal notice

Updated Colorado Attorney General John Suthers Monday filed the formal notice of the state’s appeal of the Lobato decision with the Colorado Supreme Court.

Suthers listed 14 possible issues that may be raised on appeal. They include whether Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport erred in “declaring the state public school finance system unconstitutional” and erred in excluding some of the state’s proposed defenses, including consideration of multiple constitutional provisions, not just the “thorough and uniform” education clause.

Other possible issues listed including the standing of plaintiffs to sue, whether school funding is an appropriate area for court rulings and whether Rappaport erred in excluding the testimony of former legislator and school finance expert Norma Anderson.

The plaintiffs were predictably critical of the filing. Kathleen Gebhardt, lead attorney in the case, said, “‘All of the state’s bases for appeal are technical arguments that do not speak to whether students are getting a constitutionally adequate education. In addition, the state’s appeal does not seek guidance on how to solve the revenue implications of the district court’s decision, which was its stated justification for the costly and time consuming appeal.”

Much of the appeal notice is legal boilerplate. The state’s full appeal brief isn’t due until June 4, and Suthers recently told legislators he expects the appeals process to take a year (see story).

Read the appeal notice, and get background in the EdNews Lobato archive.

Daily Churn logoWhat’s churning:

Bills are starting to stack up on legislative committee agendas this week.

The biggest education bill on the docket is Senate Bill 12-015, the proposal to create a new class of college tuition for undocumented students. It’s up for consideration by the Senate Education Committee Thursday afternoon.

House Education has five bills on its calendar Wednesday, including House Bill 12-1072, which would assign the Colorado Commission on Higher Education to develop criteria for awarding college credit for a student’s prior learning through work experience, military service, community involvement or independent study.

What’s on tap:

Get the week’s full legislative calendar here.

TUESDAY

The Aurora Public Schools Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. at the Educational Services Center, 1085 Peoria St. Watch the agenda page for details when they are posted.

The Boulder Valley School District Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. at district headquarters, 6500 Arapahoe St. Agenda

WEDNESDAY

The state Capital Construction Assistance Board meets starting at 1 p.m. at 1560 Broadway, suite 1175.

Douglas County Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Fagen kicks off a series of 2012 “telephone town halls,” aimed at providing district updates directly to the community. Participants can submit questions during the meetings, which begin at 6 p.m. Nine meetings are scheduled, from Jan. 25 through June 13. To participate, call  877-228-2184, and entering the passcode 19350. Learn more.

SATURDAY

Jefferson County school board members will host community budget forums from 9 – 10:30 a.m. at Arvada, Columbine, Evergreen, Ralston Valley and Bear Creek high schools to gather public input. All interested community members are invited to attend. The district is conservatively planning on $70 million in cuts over the next two years and the Citizens’ Budget Advisory Council has developed a prioritized list of suggestions for cuts. Board members will have the final say. More info.

Good reads from elsewhere:

Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell announced a series of proposed reforms including elimination of teacher tenure and students taking one online course to graduate, the Washington Post reports.

School funding lawsuits in Colorado, Texas and Washington highlight the political and ideological divides over school funding, with some governors and lawmakers choosing to balance budgets by making deep cuts in spending-including for K-12—rather than raise taxes. An overview in Education Week.

The EdNews’ Churn is a daily roundup of briefs, notes and meetings in the world of Colorado education. To submit an item for consideration in this listing, please email us at EdNews@EdNewsColorado.org.

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.

call out

Our readers had a lot to say in 2017. Make your voice heard in 2018.

PHOTO: Chris Hill/Whitney Achievement School
Teacher Carl Schneider walks children home in 2015 as part of the after-school walking program at Whitney Achievement Elementary School in Memphis. This photograph went viral and inspired a First Person reflection from Schneider in 2017.

Last year, some of our most popular pieces came from readers who told their stories in a series that we call First Person.

For instance, Carl Schneider wrote about the 2015 viral photograph that showed him walking his students home from school in a low-income neighborhood of Memphis. His perspective on what got lost in the shuffle continues to draw thousands of readers.

First Person is also a platform to influence policy. Recent high school graduate Anisah Karim described the pressure she felt to apply to 100 colleges in the quest for millions of dollars in scholarships. Because of her piece, the school board in Memphis is reviewing the so-called “million-dollar scholar” culture at some high schools.

Do you have a story to tell or a point to make? In 2018, we want to give an even greater voice to students, parents, teachers, administrators, advocates and others who are trying to improve public education in Tennessee. We’re looking for essays of 500 to 750 words grounded in personal experience.

Whether your piece is finished or you just have an idea to discuss, drop a line to Community Editor Caroline Bauman at cbauman@chalkbeat.org.

But first, check out these top First Person pieces from Tennesseans in 2017:

My high school told me to apply to 100 colleges — and I almost lost myself in the process

“A counselor never tried to determine what the absolute best school for me would be. I wasted a lot of time, money and resources trying to figure that out. And I almost lost myself in the process.” —Anisah Karim     

Why I’m not anxious about where my kids go to school — but do worry about the segregation that surrounds us

“In fact, it will be a good thing for my boys to learn alongside children who are different from them in many ways — that is one advantage they will have that I did not, attending parochial schools in a lily-white suburb.” —Mary Jo Cramb

I covered Tennessee’s ed beat for Chalkbeat. Here’s what I learned.

“Apathy is often cited as a major problem facing education. That’s not the case in Tennessee.” —Grace Tatter

I went viral for walking my students home from school in Memphis. Here’s what got lost in the shuffle.

“When #blacklivesmatter is a controversial statement; when our black male students have a one in three chance of facing jail time; when kids in Memphis raised in the bottom fifth of the socioeconomic bracket have a 2.6 percent chance of climbing to the top fifth — our walking students home does not fix that, either.” —Carl Schneider

I think traditional public schools are the backbone of democracy. My child attends a charter school. Let’s talk.

“It was a complicated choice to make. The dialogue around school choice in Nashville, though, doesn’t often include much nuance — or many voices of parents like me.” —Aidan Hoyal

I grew up near Charlottesville and got a misleading education about Civil War history. Students deserve better.

“In my classroom discussions, the impetus for the Civil War was resigned to a debate over the balance of power between federal and state governments. Slavery was taught as a footnote to the cause of the war.” —Laura Faith Kebede