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Woodland Park community packs school board meeting with concerns of interim superintendent finalist


WOODLAND PARK, Colo. (KRDO) -- Dozens of community members in Woodland Park attended a standing-room-only RE-2 board of education meeting on Wednesday evening. Thirteen parents and teachers expressed their concern over the potential hiring of interim superintendent Ken Witt.

The meeting comes hours after a student-led walkout on Wednesday morning at Woodland Park High School in protest of Witt's potential hiring.

Multiple speakers expressed a desire to keep the current co-superintendents in WPSD, Tina Cassens and Del Garrick. They cited a parent survey distributed in recent weeks that reflected their sentiment with parents in the district.

"Please let our co-superintendents finish out this school year," one parent said during the meeting.

Many parents claimed the hiring process of the new superintendent was "rushed" and did not properly evaluate the other candidates vying for the position.

Earlier in December, the school board named Witt as the sole finalist for the interim superintendent position. If hired, he'll hold the position for six months before a new interview process is held.

In response to the protest, Witt told KRDO, "I'm proud of the significant accomplishments during my board tenure in Jeffco, where all efforts centered on improved student academic performance and quality of instruction."

Witt is currently the executive director of Education ReEnvisioned BOCES. The organization oversees brick-and-mortar, online, and homeschool programs.

According to the BOCES website, Witt's background is in technology development, business management, and policy and governance.

Community members expressed concerns over how students in the BOCES program are performing. They claimed that BOCES getting support from the Colorado Department of Education in an effort to improve student performance.

Witt previously served as president of the Jefferson County Board of Education from 2013-2015. In 2015, Witt was at the center of a controversy after asking for a review of the AP history curriculum to include more "patriotism" within lessons.

Voters successfully recalled Witt that same year.

Speakers cited continued growth in RE-2, even during years of the COVID pandemic, as reasons why the district does not need leadership change at the top.

While the majority of attendees expressed concerns over the board's decision to consider Witt as the superintendent finalist, some expressed support for the discretion used by the elected board members.

One speaker said the board of education has a difficult job and cannot make a decision that appeases the entirety of the community. The speaker said all board members were elected in a democratic election process by community members and stated that not all of those who elected the board members attended Wednesday night's meeting.

In a statement from Woodland Park Board Member David Illingworth, he said:

"You’ve got adults instigating kids to disrupt everyone’s education, and they pretend that’s in our students’ interest?  As a father of four schoolchildren, people who manipulate children like that are beneath contempt.  For parents who want schools to get back to teaching, Ken Witt isn’t just a leader, he’s a lifeline.  I’m excited to work with him to improve the education of WPSD students for their own benefit, instead of being used by activists as weapons in a media campaign."

Woodland Park Board Member David Illingworth

Witt told KRDO he's honored to be considered for the job and appreciates the school board's efforts to focus on student education and academic success.

The board will make its final vote for a temporary superintendent on December 21.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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