Timothy Couch, President of the Mesa Valley Education Association (MVEA), resigned via email March 8, on the same day the three-member conservative District 51 School Board majority ignored the pleas of students and voted to reject an offer by Marillac Health to operate a grant-funded, school-based health clinic at Grand Junction High School. The three Board members rejected the clinic at a time when homelessness among D-51 students is rapidly increasing and a Youth Risk Behavior survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (pdf) found poor mental health and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among students are increasing nationwide. According to the CDC, in 2021, almost 60% of female students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness during the past year and nearly 25% made a suicide plan. Suicide is also a growing problem among Mesa County youth and suicide prevention is a “health priority” for Mesa County Public Health.
My 92 year old neighbor, who worked for School District 51 over forty years ago, received this hate mail yesterday, with the following computer-printed in screaming all-caps, racist, anti-transgender hate letter glued to the back of the picture with the child at the chalkboard:
My neighbor is pretty tough, but the line that said “OL’ BITCH” really saddened her.
In addition to showing that racism and homophobia in Grand Junction are alive and thriving, this rude correspondence raises several questions:
— How did the sender get the address of this person?
The Colorado Times Recorder is reporting that D-51 School Board President Andrea Haitz and D-51 Board Member Angela Lema attended a seminar at a Grand Junction hotel on August 26 called “Save Our Schools,” put on by Heritage Action for America, an affiliate of the right wing Heritage Foundation. The seminar taught people how to fight equity and inclusion policies in schools and provided resources to help them.
What are equity and inclusion policies, anyway?
School Board President Andrea Haitz is clearly rattled in this 7 minute video of last night’s meeting (2/7/22, above), taken before the Board went into Executive Session. Her voice quivers, and she gets items for the meeting out of order.
District 51 School Board President Andrea Haitz has scheduled another Special Board Meeting on Wednesday, February 9 at 3:15 p.m. in the Harry Butler Board Room at R-5, same location as yesterday’s meeting. Like the one on Monday night, this one was also scheduled with very short notice. People have noticed the time of day when Haitz plans to hold the meeting will make it difficult for teachers to attend.
The District 51 School Board’s new conservative majority — Andrea Haitz, Angela Lema and Willie Jones — appear to be getting ready to fire School District Superintendent, Diana Sirko, Assistant Superintendent Brian Hill and Tracy Gallegos, the District’s Director of Equity and Inclusion, who was hired into that position in July, 2021.
The three Board members gave short notice about a special meeting to be held on Monday, February 5 at 5:00 p.m. discuss these three employees’ contracts with attorneys they just hired in January to serve as their own representatives: David Price and Tammy Eret of Hoskin, Farina and Kampf.
The Board members produced the agenda on Saturday evening, 2/5/22, and then quietly slipped it onto the School Board’s meeting website (pdf) on Sunday evening, 2/6/21.
It took no time at all for the newly sworn-in District 51 School Board members to violate Colorado’s Open Meetings Law (pdf), violate their campaign promises of transparency, and indicate their willingness to spend excessive taxpayer funds for no clear reason, and they did it all in one breathtaking move they sprang on everyone a full four hours into their first board meeting December 14.