A 28-year veteran of the Douglas County School District and high-ranking district official quickly resigned in condemnation of the board’s decision to fire former Superintendent Corey Wise, records show.
Sid Rundle, the special education services officer, lambasted school board directors in his letter of resignation. Colorado Community Media obtained the document though a public records request.
“Despite their propaganda, they do not value loyalty, hard work, dedication, relationships, decency, humility, or integrity,” Rundle wrote. “Instead, they showed themselves to be firmly yoked to political influence, arrogant ideology, and a disdain for due process.”
Rundle served as Cresthill Middle School principal from 2008 until last year, when he was promoted to a district cabinet position. He also oversaw mental health, wellness and early childhood education services for the district.
Rundle submitted his resignation shortly before noon on Feb. 5. The night before, the conservative school board majority members — Mike Peterson, Becky Myers, Christy Williams and Kaylee Winegar — voted to fire Wise without cause in a 4-3 decision. In-part, the directors said Wise was not leadership material, mismanaged COVID-19 response such as masking, and had undermined their decisions.
Colorado Community Media has requested interviews with Rundle and directors Peterson, Myers, Williams and Winegar.
The board called the Feb. 4 special meeting days after minority board directors alleged the majority broke open meetings law by privately deciding to issue Wise an ultimatum to resign or be fired.
Minority directors also raised concerns that Wise was not given due process — including the chance to address any concerns with his performance or receive formal evaluation reports before being ousted.
Majority directors have emphatically denied any wrongdoing and adamantly maintained they complied with state Sunshine Laws.
Rundle said his decision to resign came with “great personal pain” after serving the Douglas County community, families and students for nearly three decades. He apologized to acting Superintendents Andy Abner and Danelle Hiatt for any “additional disruption” his resignation would cause, saying his “respect and admiration for the two of you are vast.”
“But I am resolute in this decision as I find I cannot continue to be associated with an organization that is so hostile to the values and core beliefs I cherish so dearly,” he wrote.
Rundle further praised fellow DCSD cabinet members as a team he had felt “humbled and honored” to be a member of. Rundle said he did not always agree with Wise but never doubted Wise’s “intention or integrity.” He called the reasons given to fire Wise baseless.
Rundle’s letter showed he wanted his resignation to become effective immediately but offered the alternative of giving a standard two week notice if it would help the district logistically.
If he stayed on for two weeks, Rundle asked the interim superintendents for permission to skip the upcoming school board meeting. He did not attend the board’s Feb. 8 study session.
School board Director David Ray shared to his Facebook page a letter to district leadership announcing Rundle’s departure, which said his last day would be Feb. 18. In his post, Ray had reacted to Rundle’s departure by saying “the heartbreak continues.”
Rundle’s resignation was a stunning development not only because of the back-to-back losses of well-known district officials but because Rundle found himself in the spotlight during the Feb. 4 meeting.
At one point, Myers had asked Rundle to speak on the spot about her character and publicly vouch that she is a good person. A former teacher, Myers said she particularly wanted educators to know how much she cared for them and students.
Myers became emotional at multiple points in the meeting. She discussed the hundreds of upset emails she had received as board secretary in the wake of board controversies and asked for a “clean slate” moving forward.
Rundle did not immediately respond to Myers’ request. Director Hanson intervened, saying the question put him in a difficult position, and that “wiping out emails” was not the right response.
Douglas County Federation President Kevin DiPasquale said he reacted with “hurt, dismay and bewilderment” to news of Rundle’s resignation, calling Rundle “an educational champion for students.”
He knows of at least two teachers who were leaving or retiring from DCSD because of recent events, he said. A district spokeswoman said 16 teachers have resigned since Feb. 4. There are more than 3,500 teachers in the district.
DiPasquale has known Rundle for 15 years and called him a moral, ethical man. Prior to meeting him, DiPasquale knew of Rundle by reputation, he said. A former district assistant principal and principal, Rundle gained a name for himself for his work on a pay-for-performance program and in special education services, DiPasquale said.
The district has a shaky history with special education, and more than a decade ago had more funding and more resources for special education programming than it does today, DiPasquale said. Rundle was tasked with getting the department back on track.
“He embodied everything you wanted to have happen for special education in a school district. Sid was the man to make it happen, and it is an utter tragedy that he has left Douglas County Schools from his position,” he said.
This story has been updated to include the number of teacher resignations since Feb. 4.
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