Douglas County schools accused of ‘woke ideology’ in voter guide that gets no fact check

TABOR book includes unvetted comments

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Douglas County’s superintendent is rebutting language published in the "TABOR book" that is meant to help voters weigh the pros and cons of tax issues on the ballot in the upcoming election.

“The comments are to be printed as they are, they are not fact-checked and there’s no process (for fact-checking),” Douglas County School District Superintendent Erin Kane said. “I was astounded when I learned that.”

Kane made those remarks on Oct. 11 at the county school board meeting in reference to what’s called the TABOR book, which addresses county and district tax measures before voters. It contains summaries of for-and-against positions. The guide also includes a warning that the information in it is not verified or checked for accuracy or truth.

Kane took issue with the comments in opposition to a $60 million mill levy override and $450 million bond that the district says it needs to make staff pay more competitive, to build new schools and to maintain buildings. 

Opponents of the mill levy override argue that voters should kill it on the basis that the district supports “woke ideology indoctrination.”

Kane and every member of the board dismissed that claim as untrue. 

“We certainly do not have an agenda-driven, formalized ‘woke’ or whatever you want to call it — social justice, activist — curriculum here in the schools,” board member Mike Peterson said. 

He added that the district’s curriculum follows state standards.

Another claim from opponents that raised concern among board members involved characterizations of the mill levy override. 

A claim in the TABOR book said the mill levy override  cost would be added on top of any future assessed home values. Kane said that is not true. The cost is expected to be roughly $52 per year for each $100,000 of current assessed home value. 

Another opposition comment claims the district will use some of the $450 million in bond money, should voters pass the measure, for operating costs or current expenses. Kane called that a misrepresentation of the district’s budget and emphasized that the expenses outlined in the bond are future capital investments.

“Those capital investments are not within our current capacity or our current plans,” Kane said. “(The capital investments) are covered if the bond passes and only if the bond passes.”

It’s unclear who wrote or submitted the comments. Per the county’s regulations, only registered voters within the district are allowed to submit comments for the TABOR book to a designated election official. From there, the clerk’s office compiles and publishes the guide.

Colorado Community Media has filed a request under the Colorado Open Records Act with the county clerk for the for-and-against information about the school district issues used in TABOR book.

The school district did not write any comments either for or against the ballot measures, Kane said.

voter guide, TABOR book, dcsd bond/MLO, election 2022, douglas county school district

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