Lawsuit finds Montessori Peaks Academy (Jeffco charter school) used illegal closed door meetings to hide discussions regarding mistreatment of students and teacher misconduct
Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition (CFOIC) shines light on violations of Sunshine Laws by a Jefferson County Public Schools charter school. In a recent article, the CFOIC describes the lawsuit against Montessori Peaks Academy, including violations of Colorado Sunshine Laws. The article recounts Jeffco District Court Judge Jeffrey Pilkington’s determination that the charter school board held illegal closed door sessions on two occasions, and further reaffirmed his ruling when he rejected the school’s motion for relief from judgment.
This ruling also highlights that Colorado charter schools are also held to a lesser standard than district boards of education, and are not held to the same levels of transparency. Despite the lesser requirements for charter school governance, the Montessori Peaks Academy board failed to provide even the most basic information regarding their illegal closed door meetings.
During the course of the lawsuit, Montessori Peaks Academy admitted that these illegal meetings were used to discuss teacher misconduct, and an investigation into the mistreatment of students by principal, staff, and governing board members. According to the school’s attorney, William Bethke, the charter school failed to make any recordings of one session, and destroyed the recordings from the remaining session.
Despite the fact that charter schools are in fact public schools, Bethke argues that “…there is no general right of a member of the public to interrogate public bodies,” and that “at a more general level, transparency in government operations is often treated as an unalloyed good. It is not.” However, the Jefferson County district court did not agree, affirming that charter school governance must at least adhere to the most basic requirements of Colorado Open Meetings Laws.
This posting can be read in its entirety at http://coloradofoic.org/judge-finds-charter-school-board-illegally-closed-doors-rejects-other-allegations/
More information about the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, a nonpartisan alliance dedicated to ensuring the transparency of state and local governments in Colorado, can be found at http://coloradofoic.org/