Adams School District Files Lawsuit Challenging State School Board Reorganization Order

A central argument in the lawsuit is that the state board is “arbitrarily setting cutoff points” for standardized testing. This means that a number of districts fall into the two lowest categories.

“This subjective decision ensures that districts, like Adams 14, are labeled with failing grades,” the suit reads. He said the grading system failed to take into account poverty, ethnicity, language barriers and the high mobility of less well-off students.

Jenny Brundin/CPR News
Students (left to right) Cy Renney, Carolina Loa, , Rayann Negrite and Crystal Esquibel sit in the bleachers of the gymnasium at Adams City High School before a graduation rehearsal. The four students said the state school board‘s decision to revamp Adams School District 14 failed to take into account the complexity of student life and all that the school has to offer.

Outside of court, Westminster School District issued a similar challenge to the council that the system fails to take into account the greater challenge faced by disadvantaged pupils.

In addition to the constitutional challenges, Adams 14 alleges that the state board abused its statutory authority and engaged in arbitrary and capricious conduct.

“Never in the history of Colorado has the State Board used its ‘general oversight’ authority to direct a constitutionally created public school district with local supervisory powers derived from the Constitution to reorganize and dissolve,” the suit says.

The legal challenge charts uncharted territory and could pose a complex political challenge to state authority. The district’s neighbors – Mapleton, 27J and Adams 12 Five Star School Districts – are expected to engage in the reorganization process, including developing a new plan for the district’s boundaries in accordance with the council’s order. .

Jenny Brundin/CPR News
Adams District 14 officials are advocating to work with a partial outside official as part of their state-ordered district improvement plan at a hearing in April.

According to the lawsuit, none of those districts agreed to the reorganization process and all notified the council that they objected to its order. The lawsuit says these districts are being forced to reorganize despite not being a party to the council’s case against Adams 14.

A dozen metropolitan districts argued in a June letter to the state board that the answers to Adams 14’s problems lay within the district itself. Along with the local control argument, several districts have criticized the liability system as significantly flawed for a number of reasons. One is that it rates schools on the results of standardized tests administered only in English, often taken by students who speak primarily Spanish.

State lawmakers have ordered an audit of the accountability system to assess its fairness and whether it helps or hurts, in particular, low-income students of color. These results are expected in December.

The district anticipates litigation on the issue could take longer than a year. The Colorado Department of Education said it was not discussing ongoing legal issues, but provided a statement.

“The State Board of Education has met its obligations to intervene in a troubled district as required by law,” he said. “We look forward to exploring the District’s concerns with the court.”

Meanwhile, the neighborhood just signed a three-year contract with a new external manager, the New York association TNTP. A temporary partial outside manager is required by order of the state while the process to determine the final fate of the district is underway.

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