The Jeffco school board voted unanimously to censure board member Laura Boggs after she agreed with a radio host that district Superintendent Cindy Stevenson “should be shot” for having a full-time employee for social media.
The vote to deliver the second censure in Boggs’ three years on the board was preceded by more than an hour of public comment at the Nov. 1 meeting, with residents and district employees speaking both for and against the censure.
“I own responsibility for the comments,” Boggs said at the meeting. “I should have immediately said to Jason (Worley), ‘That’s an inappropriate comment.’ … I did not.”
During a recent radio interview with conservative radio host Worley of Grassroots Radio Colorado on KLZ-AM, Worley mentioned the often-rebutted claim that the district has a full-time employee whose only duty involves updating social media.
“If you have a (full-time) Facebook person still (on staff) in Jefferson County, your superintendent should be shot,” Worley said.
Boggs reiterated at the board meeting that she sent a handwritten note of apology to Stevenson.
“I think the adult thing to do is when you hurt somebody’s feelings that you didn’t expect to hurt, then you apologize and ask for forgiveness,” Boggs said in an interview. “I hope that (my apology) was taken in the spirit that it was offered in. … My hope is that we can get back to the business of student achievement.”
At an Oct. 25 board meeting, Stevenson said she found Boggs’ apology “hollow.”
Boggs later added at that meeting, “I do apologize to the community; I apologize to the board.”
Board member Robin Johnson addressed members of the public who accused the board of bullying Boggs and quashing her often-dissenting opinion.
“This isn’t about a difference in opinion,” she said. “This is about a threat being made on a public radio show, and a board member agreeing and laughing at that comment.”
As board president Lesley Dahlkemper told the packed board room Nov. 1, censure — strong disapproval of the board — is different from “censor.”
The censure — which will not limit Boggs’ regular board duties — is the second Boggs has received in her tenure as a board member since 2009. The board censured Boggs in 2010 for a variety of behavior, including being accused of linking the words “school” and “stupid” on a classroom white board, threatening to derail a grant the district had applied for and telling Stevenson she would “tear this county apart.”
Boggs denies that she threatened to derail the grant or that she told Stevenson she would tear the county apart.
“Not any of that was ever proven,” she said in an interview.
No other board member has been censured in the district’s history.
The board room was filled with people sitting and standing Nov. 1, and when one person during public comment asked those who supported censuring Boggs to stand, most of those seated stood up.
A few even said that censure wasn’t a strong enough repercussion.
“Censuring Ms. Boggs is not a sufficient action for her conduct,” said Amy Prichard, president of the Jefferson County Education Association, the teachers union. “The children and families of this district deserve better.”
Prichard said the JCEA is calling for Boggs’ resignation, and several other individuals echoed the request.
Boggs said in an interview that those calling for her resignation are the same groups that have “continually asked for my resignation. I’m not resigning,” she said.
Others said censuring Boggs was a waste of time for an off-the-cuff remark.
Arvada resident Tom Graham said the board should take Worley’s remarks in the spirit in which they were made.
“This is a typical facetious remark,” Graham said, adding that he sees the censure as an attack on Boggs because of her conservative politics and because she is not in favor of ballot issues 3A and 3B, which asked voters for property tax increases. “Everyone sees that this is a sleazy attempt to divert from issues.”
Boggs has clashed repeatedly with Stevenson and with her fellow board members, especially over proposed property-tax hike measures 3A and 3B, which were voted on Tuesday. Boggs was the only board member who opposed the measures.
Earlier this year, board members complained about the way Boggs handled a May community forum in Evergreen about budget priorities. Parents and district staff complained that Boggs monopolized the forum’s time and was rude to some attendees.
Board member Paula Noonan addressed the fraying relationship between Boggs and the rest of the board.
“What I regret is that, somehow, respect has broken down,” Noonan said, “and I think that has happened in both directions.”
Contact Gaby Zastrocky at email@example.com or follow at Twitter.com/gabriellereport.