Education

Controversial Dougco School Board Members Should Be Recalled, Poll Says

Douglas County Board of Education president Mike Peterson during the March 22 meeting that formalized the hiring of new superintendent Erin Kane.
Douglas County Board of Education president Mike Peterson during the March 22 meeting that formalized the hiring of new superintendent Erin Kane. Douglas County School District via YouTube
A new poll of Douglas County voters found that a majority of respondents support recalling the four controversial members of the Douglas County School District's Board of Education who engineered the firing of superintendent Corey Wise in February.

The survey was commissioned by the advocacy organization DougCo Collective and conducted by Salt Lake City-based Frederick Polls. The participants were quizzed early in June, prior to this week's revelation that board president Mike Peterson and District E director Christine Williams, who successfully ran in the November 2021 election on a slate dubbed Kids First DCSD with fellow members Kaylee Winegar and Becky Myers, are under investigation for potential perjury.

According to 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner, the Republican nominee for Colorado attorney general, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office was assigned to take on the probe after multiple citizens asserted that Peterson and Williams lied while testifying in a lawsuit over the process by which Wise was ousted — claims supported by a recording of a meeting with the pair secretly made by the former superintendent days before his dismissal.

Frederick Polls questioned 651 likely November 2022 Douglas County voters either online or by telephone from June 1-5. The poll's margin of error is estimated at 3.7 percent.

Among the questions: "If there were an election held today to RECALL and REMOVE the recently elected Douglas County School board members, would you vote YES to recall them or NO to keep them as School Board members." The final tally showed approximately 60 percent of respondents said they would vote "yes" for a recall, versus around 39 percent who said they would opt to keep the boardmembers in place.

A solid majority, 84 percent of those surveyed, said they were aware of "controversies involving actions by the new majority of Douglas County Board members who were elected in last November's elections," and 56 percent expressed a negative view of Wise's firing, as compared to 22 percent who saw it positively.

Another section of the poll asked: "Which is closer to your opinion about the firing of Superintendent Corey Wise by the newly elected School Board majority? 'They were RIGHT to make this change since voters just elected them in protest against policies like mask mandates and liberal Woke equity instruction' or 'They were WRONG to use secret meetings to abruptly fire a long-time Superintendent with a good track record running the District providing quality education when he was only following the federal 'rule of law' on masks, COVID safety, and equity policy.'" The breakdown: 33 percent chose "RIGHT," while 66 percent picked "WRONG."

In addition, 66 percent of those surveyed said they wanted "professional educators" to be in control of what is taught in school classrooms, rather than "activist parents" (20 percent) and "elected School Board members" (14 percent).

DougCo Collective has not announced a recall bid; the poll was intended to determine if voters had the "appetite" for such an effort. "The backroom deal to fire former Superintendent Corey Wise without due process and the overall lack of transparency by this new board continues to make our kids pawns for their political agenda," says DougCo Collective spokesperson Julie Gooden in a statement.

The Douglas County School District has not responded to Westword's request for comment; click to read the poll regarding recalling four Douglas County school board members.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts