Last night marked a key moment of transition for the Denver Public Schools, as the old, reform-friendly Board made its last votes and the new, not-so-reform-friendly Board was sworn in to take its place. More remarkable and bizarre, however, was how dramatically events unfolded, as reported by Ed News Colorado:
As board member Michelle Moss walked up to take her seat for what was to be her last meeting in eight years representing southwest Denver, her newly elected replacement Andrea Merida told her that she would be sitting on the dais instead.
Merida, rather than waiting to take the oath of office with two other new members after the meeting, had instead been sworn in hours earlier so she could cast a vote on the controversial reforms.
A shocked Moss reacted with tears and anger.
“I worked very hard to get Andrea elected … and I cannot imagine someone going behind my back and doing what she did today,” she told the standing-room-only audience before leaving.
Merida later offered apologies to Moss but said, “This is about the people’s wishes being heard.”
Hopefully, it’s not a sign of things to come. But we should at least be able to hope that DPS Board members act more their age than mine.
Before the other new members were sworn in, the DPS Board passed a modest reform package. But what does the future hold for the Board — which immediately after the election clearly appeared to have a union-friendly 4-3 majority? Look no further than new Board president Nate Easley.
While Easley was backed by the union in the campaign, he at least appears open to allying with pro-reform Board members Bruce Hoyt, Theresa Pena, and Mary Seawell on some issues. Or maybe I’m reading too much into the events of the first night.
Might Easley prove to be a swing vote on many key DPS reform decisions in the coming months? Let’s stay tuned and see. Too many important innovations that benefit thousands of Denver students are on the table to ignore.