Two of the three Jefferson County school board members targeted for recall this fall would rather defend their records before voters than see petition signatures challenged.
Board president Ken Witt and fellow Republican John Newkirk are asking Jefferson County residents not to challenge the signatures validated by the county clerk Tuesday.
Instead, they say they’re ready to ask voters, who may face the issue as soon as November, to reaffirm what they believe is a mandate to improve the state’s second largest school district.
Witt said in an email he looks forward to a dialogue with parents and the opportunity to ”share the successes of Jeffco schools.”
“I couldn’t be more proud of our district and the way we have put our students first,” he said.
Newkirk, in an email, echoed Witt.
“The recall petition contains erroneous, misleading, and outright deceptive language,” he wrote. “That said, I have no plans to mount a legal challenge as I believe the recall effort now provides an opportunity to discuss and highlight the many positive things our district has accomplished over the past two years.”
Board member Julie Williams did not immediately return request for comment.
A commercial featuring her and her children began airing on local and cable television stations this week. The commercial is paid for by Kids Are First Jeffco, a new campaign backed by the Independence Institute, a libertarian-leaning Denver think tank.
All three school board members were elected by wide margins in 2013.
Their tenure, however, has been marred with controversy. A vocal — and now well-funded — group of parents and teachers wants voters to recall all three this fall.
If the recall is successful, the Jeffco school board would have a completely different makeup than it does today.
Paula Noonan, who served on the Jeffco school board from 2009 to 2013, filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office last week to run as a replacement to Witt.
She’s the first and so far only candidate to announce plans to run as an alternative in the recall, according to the Secretary of State’s website.
“I’m not beholden to either side in this rift, and I think that’s a good thing,” she said Wednesday. “Frankly, what the district needs most is someone who can be considerate of everyone.”
Ken Witt’s full statement
“There are some who would like us to challenge the recall petitions that were certified today with a legal protest due to their wildly inaccurate and inflammatory language. But I won’t. And I ask that no one bring forward any legal challenge to the petitions.
I am looking forward to this dialog with our fellow parents in Jeffco and to the opportunity to share the successes of Jeffco Schools. I couldn’t be more proud of our district and the way we have put our students first.
We were elected with the promise to equalize all public school funding, expand school choice, and to set academic achievement goals. In the short year and a half that we have served on the Board, John Newkirk, Julie Williams and I have done all of this and more. We have dedicated $20 million to teacher and staff pay raises. We have implemented a pay-for-performance structure. We have committed to building a state-of-the-art new school without going into debt. We have asked our District leaders to find ways to drive performance for at-risk students, like those in the Jefferson and Alameda areas, and the District staff is developing some outstanding programs.
This recall attempt will serve to highlight the accomplishments of this board, staff and students. Let’s get talking.