Category: Education

D-51 employee raises a red flag about the way D-51 conducts lockdown drills compared to other school districts

A highly experienced School District 51 employee who came here from the front range with over 20 years experience in conducting lockdown drills in other school districts is raising red flags about the way D-51 conducts its lockdown drills, and the trauma it is causing students. The employee describes a heartbreaking experience during a lockdown drill with a room full of kindergarteners during the 2023-2024 school year and the lasting  effects it had on students. The employee has brought the problem up with school counselors, the D-51 School Board and Tim Leon, Director of Safety and Security for District 51, and even proposed different ways to conduct these drills that are used in other school districts that don’t traumatize students the way D-51’s drills do, and offered research by the National Association of School Psychologists on how to mitigate the negative psychological effects that lockdown drills have on young kids, but the employee’s urgings have been ignored at every turn.

Former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese elected state House Minority Leader

Rose Pugliese supported disastrous former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters in the 2018 election despite the fact that Tina was completely unqualified to be a County Clerk. Tina was running  against Bobbie Gross, who was already certified to run state and local elections, was managing the DMV and had more than a decade of experience in the Clerk’s office.

Former two-term Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, who moved to Colorado Springs in 2020 to run for the state House District 14 seat (and won the seat), has been elected Republican House Minority Leader in the Colorado Legislature. She replaces Rep. Mike Lynch (R), who resigned as Minority Leader on Wednesday, 1/24/24 after it was revealed that he had been arrested in September, 2022 on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) and possessing a firearm while intoxicated. Lynch pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months probation and 150 hours of community service.

Mesa County Public Library to host educational seminar about menstrual health for teens 14-18 on Sat., Jan. 27, 1-2:30 p.m.

The downtown Mesa County Public Library will host a free educational workshop on menstrual health on Saturday, January 27 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. in the Library’s Monument Room. The event is aimed at teens aged 14-18 of all genders and their caregivers. It will include an opportunity to ask questions and get medically-accurate answers from experts in the field.

Many people may know the basics of the menstrual cycle, but not everyone knows what is a sign of a illness and what’s not. This holds true even for adults. This seminar will go beyond the basics of the menstrual cycle to tell teens how to recognize if a period is normal or not, where to get free period products and how to use them, and how to talk more openly about periods without embarrassment or shame.

The workshop will be led virtually by two period professionals who are medical students or physicians-in-training who are specifically trained menstrual health education for this program, which was developed by physician experts.

Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis uses offensive term in public hearing about the county budget


To be fair, Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis (R) probably had no idea what he was saying when he said it, but it was highly offensive.

23 minutes or so into the Commissioners’ meeting on December 12, 2023 to approve the annual budget (video), Commissioner Davis discusses how difficult it is for him to understand the budgeting process and said,

“Mongoloid” is an offensive term used to refer to people with Down Syndrome

“If I didn’t have help sometimes, reading this budget I’d feel like a knuckle-dragging Mongoloid.”

He was apparently unaware that “knuckle-dragging Mongoloid” is a highly offensive term.

For a long time the term “Mongoloid” was a pejorative term used to refer to people affected by Down Syndrome. It is also a racist term used to refer to people of Asian descent.

D-51 employees share views on the proposed closure of Fruita 8/9 public school

D-51 employees have shared their views with AnneLandmanBlog anonymously, due to fears of retribution by the District.

This message was sent to AnneLandmanBlog by a School District-51 employee who asked that I paraphrase their message rather than quote them verbatim, to help keep them anonymous. The employee fears potential backlash by the District for weighing in publicly on the way Superintendent Brian Hill is proposing to close the Fruita 8/9 public school.

Here is the message:

District 51 quietly working on plan that involves firing over 50 teachers in Fruita

Fruita 8/9 School, August 2022 (Photo: Facebook)

AnneLandmanBlog received the following communication this morning titled “A Huge Concern,” from a D-51 teacher who wants to get word out about the School District quietly moving forward with a plan to fire over 50 Fruita-area teachers, many of whom have over 20 years of experience:

People concerned about D-51 Social Studies Forums Nov. 15 & 16

School District 51 is holding forums today and tomorrow (Wednesday, 11/15 and Thursday, 11/16) to discuss the state’s new social studies standards. The forums are today at Redlands Middle School and tomorrow at Orchard Mesa Middle School, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. each day.

So, what’s up with these forums?

Instructor salaries at CMU remarkably low compared to state and nation

Classified ad placed by Colorado Mesa University in the 11/12/23 issue of the Daily Sentinel for a tenure-track assistant professor of nursing

Colorado Mesa University (CMU) has been advertising for a tenure-track assistant nursing professor for its Montrose campus.

The position requires teaching 12 course credit hours each semester, or 24 credits over an academic year, which is considered a standard, full-time teaching load. Applicants must also have a current RN license, plus a minimum of two years of full time professional clinical experience and a graduate degree in nursing from a nationally accredited school of nursing, with a Ph.D. preferred, as well as other requirements.

But the pay is only $55,000 – 60,000 a year.

D-51 School Board candidate Barbara Evanson wants to teach creationism alongside science in public schools

“I feel like we need to be teaching both ends of the spectrum when we’re teaching things in school as well….What I mean by that is if we’re teaching the Big Bang Theory then we need to teach creationism as well.” — Barbara Evanson

On October 31, the Colorado Times Recorder highlighted a locally-made video interview with District 51 School Board candidate Barbara Evanson in which Evanson says that if schools teach what is scientifically known about the origins of the universe, then they should also have to teach creationism alongside that information so kids can decide on their own what’s true.

Creationism is the religious belief that God created the universe. It is a wholly religious construct with no scientific proof behind it,

The idea of mandating creationism be taught in public schools alongside scientific information has been declared by U.S. courts to be illegal.

D-51 School Board candidate Barbara Evanson says she wants to ban “a ton” of material from school libraries

In this excerpt from an interview with “Ruth” and “Lisa” (who do not provide their last names) posted on a YouTube account named “MesaCountyCompass” on October 8, 2023, “District 51 School Board candidate Barbara Evanson says she would ban “a ton of material” from school libraries that she feels is inappropriate.

Woodland Park-based Christian nationalist group working to influence Mesa County District 51 School Board election

Truth & Liberty Coalition fliers seek to influence the local school board election by focusing on right wing culture war issues. The fliers were placed at La Milpa Tortilleria on 30 Road.

High-quality, multi-colored, bilingual fliers created by the front range Christian dominionist group Truth & Liberty Coalition are showing up at businesses around town. The fliers use right wing culture war rhetoric targeting gay and transgender students in an attempt to influence the outcome of the November 7 District 51 School Board election. The fliers appear to endorse CynDee Skalla, Jessica Hearns and Barbara Evanson.

The fliers were found at La Milpa Tortilla Factory in Grand Junction and are bilingual in English and Spanish.

“Stand for the Constitution,” which still supports Tina Peters, is working to get Evanson & Skalla elected to D-51 School Board

A slide shown at a mid-October, 2023 Stand for the Constitution meeting that indicates the group still supports criminally-indicted, election denier Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters. The same group is supporting Evanson and Skalla for D-51 School District Board.

It seems like Mesa County never seems to learn from its past mistakes.

Stand for The Constitution (SFTC), the local extremist group that pushed to get Tina Peters elected County Clerk in 2018, that continued to support Peters even after her loss of 574 of ballots in 2019 and even after her indictments on multiple felony criminal charges related to election tampering, is now working to get Barbara Evanson and CynDee Skalla elected to the District 51 School Board in the November 7, 2023 election.

Stand for the Constitution also backed the three conservative school board members Haitz, Lema and Jones who have brought rancor, questionable ethics, uncertainty, disruption and hatred to the school board.

District 51 School Board candidate rundown for the November 7, 2023 election

For this article, information was taken from Colorado Tracer (the state’s campaign finance disclosure website), Little Sis (a free database that tracks key relationships between politicians, business leaders, lobbyists, financiers, and their affiliated institutions), the subscription background check site Truthfinder.com, Zillow.com, the archives of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, the subscription newspaper archive Newspapers.com, the candidates’ own social media accounts and campaign websites if they have them, and the social media pages of other people and groups in Mesa County where the candidates might have posted, or where they might have been mentioned.

I would urge readers to particularly look at which candidates have hired professional agents and campaign consultants, who they’ve hired to do these jobs, and which candidates are serving as their own registered agents and managing their own campaigns.

The candidates running for the two open seats on District 51 School Board in 2023 are:

District A: José Luis Chavéz, CynDee Skalla and Jessica Hearn

District B: Barbara Evanson and Cindy Enos Martinez

CU Anschutz environmental toxicologist: Ascent Classical Academy’s lead remediation will have to meet tighter EPA standard of 3 micrograms/sq. ft. for floors, instead of the current standard of 10 mcg/sq. ft.

The former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, where Ascent Classical Academy plans to open a new charter school eventually, after missing its initially-proposed September 5 date for occupancy. The gun club signs were still on the building as of early August.

Michael Kosnett, M.D., M.P.H., at CU Anschutz School of Public Health in Aurora, CO, an expert in medical toxicology, occupational and environmental health who specializes in occupational and environmental toxicology of heavy metals, including lead, weighed in about the type of post-remediation lead testing that should be used at the Ascent Classical Academy building (swipe or bulk testing), and what the residual lead levels are allowed to be in this situation.

Lead is a highly poisonous element that, according to UNICEF, is responsible for 1.5% of global deaths. Children are particularly susceptible to its effects.

CDPHE now says Vertex used an approved test for lead at the Ascent Classical Academy building; lead levels still in question

How much lead exposure does it take to poison a child? This much.

AnneLandmanBlog received the following email from Bradley Turpin, Milk and Institutions Program Manager in CDPHE’s Division of Environmental Health and Sustainability saying the company that performed the post-remediation testing for lead at the new Ascent Classical Academy building (the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club at 545 31 Road) did in fact use a test that they are allowed to use in this instance. He apologized for the confusion caused by their former statement that bulk testing would be appropriate in this situation. The official did not comment on the current lead levels in the building, but CDPHE does appear to be involved in overseeing the remediation.

Ascent Classical Academy used the wrong kind of post-remediation lead testing in the Rocky Mountain Gun Club building, according to CDPHE

How lead is dispersed at shooting ranges (Georgia Dept. of Public Health/Seattle Times)

The Vertex Company LLC of Denver, which Ascent Classical Academy hired to test the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club building for lead contamination after the building was remediated, did the wrong kind of testing, says an specialist with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Caren Johannes of CDPHE’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division Compliance Unit, who oversees closed shooting ranges, looked over online remediation report (pdf) that Ascent posted its website on August 11, 2023, and concluded that the Vertex Company did the wrong kind of testing for lead in the building, so their results will not be valid.

Ascent Classical Academy’s lead remediation report shows 30 of 66 areas tested in their new school do not meet HUD requirements

How much lead exposure does it take to poison a child? This much. And so far no one has  guaranteed there isn’t this much lead remaining in the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club building, which is being repurposed to serve as Ascent Classical Academy’s new charter school in Grand Junction

Notice: Since this article was written, AnneLandmanBlog has found out from Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)’s Hazardous Waste department expert in charge of dealing with closed firing ranges that Ascent contractor Vertex Companies of Denver utilized the wrong type of post-remediation testing technique for this facility, rendering the results in the report Ascent posted on August 11 invalid and essentially useless. Read more about it here.

The 8-page, post-lead remediation testing report that Ascent Classical Academy Grand Junction posted on its website August 11, 2023 (pdf) shows that 30 of the 66 sites tested for lead in the old Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, which is to serve as the new charter school, still have lead levels 5-23 times above HUD allowable limits.

And Ascent did not test the air inside the facility.

Derek Shuler, CEO of Ascent Classical Academies, in 2018 (Photo: YouTube)

The post-remediation testing was performed by the Vertex Company, which included a disclaimer in the report that essentially says it wasn’t feasible to test all areas of the building, so there may still be areas where lead dust levels exceed HUD limits.