May 24, 2016
Douglas County Parents today learned that Superintendent, Dr. Elizabeth Fagen has resigned her position with the Douglas County School District. This brings even more turmoil to the district that is already embroiled in controversy surrounding the intimidation tactics of Board of Education Directors Meghan Silverthorn and Judi Reynolds towards Ponderosa High School sophomore Grace Davis earlier this spring.
Fagen was hired in 2010 by the seven “reform-minded” members of the Douglas County Board of Education, a group that included current directors Douglas Benevento and Meghan Silverthorn. Despite objections from educators, principals, parents, students, and community members, Fagen and the school board implemented a host of controversial “reforms” in Douglas County over the past six years. During this time, a variety of community groups sprung up questioning the many new, unsupported policies, including Taxpayers for Public Education, the Strong Schools Coalition, Voices for Public Education, the Community Accountability Committee, and Douglas County Parents.
During Dr. Fagen’s tenure, DCSD has seen a near doubling of the teacher turnover rate, increasing from 10.17% in 2010 to 19.72% in 2016. Fagen and the “reform” board members also created a controversial voucher program in 2011 that was found to be unconstitutional by the Colorado Supreme Court. Since Fagen’s arrival, DCSD has seen non-essential spending increase drastically, diverting money away from the classroom. We do not believe this is in the best interests of our students or our communities.
As a result of the “reform” policies, DCSD has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawsuits and has experienced a never before seen level of community dissatisfaction with the school district. Throughout all this turmoil, School Board Directors Benevento, Geddes, Reynolds and Silverthorn have consistently given Dr. Fagen the highest rating available and rewarded her with salary increases, early contract renewals, and bonuses totaling over $30,000.
We are hopeful the resignation of Dr. Fagen will be a positive step toward the healing of our school district and community,” said Jason Virdin, spokesperson for Douglas County Parents. “The results of the school board election last November were quite clear, showing the community does not support “reform.” We are anxious to start the healing process in Douglas County and hope the board majority will back up their recent assertions with action — gathering and considering significant, substantial community and staff input while searching for a new Superintendent.”
Before we embark upon the search for a new superintendent, we must first resolve the outstanding investigation into the behavior of Board of Education Directors Silverthorn and Reynolds, who improperly instigated a meeting with a minor student behind closed doors without her parents’ knowledge or consent earlier this spring. Douglas County Parents continues to support Ponderosa student Grace Davis in her request for the resignations of both directors.
“DCSD needs a strong leader who can unite our community, restore the morale of our educators and principals, and earn the respect and support of every student and school board director,” said Virdin. “We look forward to the appointment of such a person as our next Superintendent.”
About Douglas County Parents:
DCP is a growing local volunteer advocacy group made up of over 1600 parents, teachers, students, and community members of all political affiliations, ages and professions who seek to maximize learning opportunities for all DCSD students, achieve district-wide fiscal responsibility, and ensure that all voices are heard and respected. All facts we share are backed with documentation garnered through the school district and Colorado Department of Education websites and publications, Colorado Open Records Act requests, and attendance at a variety of meetings. Please contact our spokesperson, Jason Virdin, at firstname.lastname@example.org for updates and statements relating to DCSD issues.