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News Release - State Board of Education responds to lawsuit over Adams 14 decision

June 13, 2019

State Board of Education responds to lawsuit over Adams 14 decision

Improving student outcomes should be the focus, board members say

DENVER – State Board of Education Chairwoman Angelika Schroeder today said she is frustrated that another lawsuit has been filed challenging the board’s actions to improve educational opportunities for students in historically underperforming schools.

In April, the Adams 14 School District chose MGT Consulting Group to be the external manager tasked with improving outcomes for the district, and the state board approved the selection in May. A lawsuit filed Wednesday by the School District 14 Classroom Teachers Association in Denver District Court seeks to overturn the order, a move Schroeder said is in direct opposition to the goal of making substantial improvements at the district that has struggled academically for years.

“For over eight years, Adams 14 students have attended schools with some of the lowest performance ratings in the state, and it’s time to take dramatic action to improve educational opportunities for these kids,” Schroeder said. “It is unfair to the students and their families to be caught in the middle of this disagreement between adults.The fact is, the district needs a manager with fresh eyes and creative, proven ideas to bring about immediate improvements.”

In late May, a similar lawsuit was filed by the Pueblo Education Association challenging the state board’s order that supported Pueblo City Schools’ request to turn over management of struggling Risley International Academy of Innovation to an external organization, as outlined by state law. Pueblo also chose MGT Consulting Group for Risley’s management company.

“The state board followed the accountability law meticulously during this entire process, and we were committed to finding a turnaround pathway that had support from the local board and community,” said state board Vice Chairman Steve Durham. “We believe the selection of a manager will lead to dramatic improvement. This latest lawsuit is an unwanted distraction from what should be everyone’s focus -- dramatically improving outcomes for the students.”

In November, the state board supported the Adams 14 plan to hand over management of its instructional program, personnel and other authority to an external organization with the purpose of improving student outcomes.  

Colorado’s 2009 Accountability Act requires the state board to mandate specific actions to boost student academic outcomes at schools and districts with more than five consecutive years of poor performance in the state’s accountability system. The law gives the board several options, including requiring a district or school to work with an external management partner.

In fall 2018, the district again received a rating of “Priority Improvement” - the second lowest rating on the District Performance Framework that factors in student achievement, academic growth and postsecondary and workforce readiness.

That rating occurred even after the district had partnered with an external management partner, Beyond Textbooks, to establish a teaching and learning cycle in its schools, which had been ordered by the state board in May 2017.