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On Jan. 18, a letter to the editor, “Jeffco gets less transparent for parents,” criticized a school board policy update. We would like to clarify the reasons behind this action.
Jefferson County Public Schools is committed to ensuring the safety of all our students and staff. To this end, we take steps to ensure our staff whom are entrusted with teaching and caring for our students have the necessary qualifications, training, and character to maintain a safe learning environment. The Colorado legislature shares our interest in safe schools and has memorialized their commitment in multiple state statutes. Specifically, the legislature has passed laws imposing criminal background check protocols and identifying criminal offenses they’ve determined are disqualifying of school personnel.
Jeffco policy reiterates these statutory requirements throughout our pertinent policies. As part of our ongoing policy review process, District policy GBEB was reviewed and redrafted for style, clarity, format, uniformity with current district practice, and statutory compliance. Updates to district policy GBEB, which were primarily clarifying, were approved by the board at the Jan. 11 meeting.
The recent Letter to the Editor alleged that the edits to GBEB reduced transparency to parents when a staff member has been charged or convicted of a relevant crime. This allegation is not correct. Edits proposed by the district policy committee and adopted by the school board clarified those crimes and community partners that would be involved in the communication process when a staff member has been charged or convicted of a relevant offense. In fact, the district has been contacted by state legislators who are interested in updating state statute in light of criminal offenders in other school districts. The most recent improvements to Jeffco policy GBEB are being utilized by these legislators as an exemplar of effective parent notification in these situations.
Diana M. Wilson is the Chief Communications Officer for Jefferson County Public Schools.
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