Douglas County Schools

Community members protest, call for school board members to resign

Meeting ends early after chants from crowd

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More than 100 community members held signs, protested outside of and attended the June 21 Douglas County School District Board of Education meeting in Castle Rock.

They wore T-shirts and held signs that read "#IStandwithGrace," a day after an independent investigation found two school board members did not violate any rules or laws after an incident involving Ponderosa High School student Grace Davis. In March, board members Judith Reynolds and Meghann Silverthorn spoke to Davis about a planned protest at her school, prompting allegations the board members bullied Davis and a call from community members for the two to resign from the board of education.

Before the June 21 meeting - a work session in which there was no time allotted for public comment - the crowd chanted "We stand with Grace," and again called for the resignation of Silverthorn and Reynolds.

Later, the meeting was brought to a halt halfway through when several members of the audience began shouting "Fire Silverthorn. Fire Reynolds."

The people making the outbursts were removed from the meeting. More chanting followed and the meeting was called into recess for more than 20 minutes.

When the meeting resumed, the board briefly addressed the investigation, saying that at the July 19 meeting the independent investigator will come and present his report and answer questions for board members. The investigation was conducted by Denver-based law firm Sherman & Howard LLC.

Silverthorn addressed the conflict in the community and asked for a stop to the unrest.

"All of us care about kids. That's why we are here," she said. "That's why you're here, giving up your Tuesday night, hanging out here in this room. Because you care about your kids. You care about other people's kids. It matters to you. What happens in this community matters to you. Why don't we get together and do some of the work that we need to do? Why don't we just get together and see. There's so much to talk about. There's so much conversation to have."

Shortly after, the crowd began yelling things out at Silverthorn and demanding that she resign. At that point, she ended the meeting.

"I've asked folks to not disrupt this meeting and I said if it would be disrupted, then we would adjourn the meeting. So that's what we're going to do. I'm sorry," Silverthorn said.

Stefanie Fuhr, one of the founders of Voices for Public Education - a group of Douglas County residents who say they are "extremely concerned about the inappropriate and unethical conduct toward Davis" - called the decision to make the June 21 meeting a work session "an obstruction to open government."

Davis said she and her family appreciate the support shown by the community.

"It's amazing," Davis, 16, said outside the school district building, megaphone in hand. "Thank you for being here. We really need the support.

"If (the rule's) not fixed, this will happen to other students. We need them to resign and show them that we don't tolerate this type of behavior."

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Ted

What is most troubling about this article is that the Highlands Ranch Herald would choose to highlight at the top of their home page, a protest against two elected community leaders, rather than highlight an article lower on their homepage with the headline: "School board members cleared of violations in encounter with student." What is more newsworthy, a pro-union rally against two exonerated school members, or an investigation that proves that what the unions are chanting about is total BS? I guess the old journalism adage still stands--if it bleeds it leads...

--Ted Harvey

Thursday, June 23, 2016 | Report this