CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — The Douglas County School Board's decision to terminate Superintendent Corey Wise after 26 years of the service in the county has drawn the ire from teachers, their union, and many members of the community.
The school board's four-person conservative majority — board president Mike Peterson, vice president Christy Williams and directors Becky Myers and Kaylee Winegar — voted to terminate Wise in a tense, dramatic Feb. 4 board meeting. The three board members who voted against Wise's firing said the conservative members may have broken the law, alleging that those four members engaged in secret meetings to take formal action against Wise.
Peterson denied any deceit and said Wise did not receive an ultimatum to resign or be fired, as other members alleged.
The Feb. 4 meeting was nevertheless contentious. When Myers initially voted "no" to fire Wise, Peterson said, "You’re voting no for termination."
“I’m sorry, yes,” Myers responded, attempting to clarify her vote to fire Wise.
“Mike, that was her vote," said board member Elizabeth Hanson, who was opposed to Wise's firing. "You do not get to come in and coerce her into changing her vote, and if she cannot follow what is happening it is not your responsibility to bring her up to speed. Her vote is no."
Hanson's comment drew raucous applause from some people in the audience. But Peterson said he was confirming Myers' vote as a yes. Myers, after a brief pause, then said, "Oh, can I go home?"
Speaking about the consequences of the board's decision to fire Wise, minority board member Susan Meek said, “When you choose to turn over leadership, you are choosing to lose teachers during a teacher shortage that is nationwide."
Kevin DiPasquale, the president of the Douglas County Federation, the local teacher's union, made similar remarks in a statement after the meeting.
"Last night, Superintendent Corey Wise, on a vote of 4-3, was terminated without cause. It is hard to overestimate the shock wave this callous action sent through the schools and community," DiPasquale said. "Now the current board majority has sent the ominous message that every district employee isn’t safe. Further, the message is that employee voices are not valued, and it clearly indicates that employees' extraordinary efforts during the pandemic are long forgotten. Unfortunately, it also says: look for options elsewhere."
Students protest after Wise was fired
On Monday, Feb. 7, many students walked out of Highlands Ranch High School and Cresthill Middle School to protest against Wise's firing.
"I was just kind of in shock," one student protester said about Wise's termination, "because there was really no reason to fire him."
Kids stood just outside Highlands Ranch High School cheering and chanting various things regarding the firing including, "equity for all."