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  • Writer's pictureVoces Unidas de las Montañas

This is what our RFSD CORA requests found, part 1

There seem to be a lot of distractions these days keeping the Roaring Fork School District from focusing on what really matters, like student achievement, for example.


Too many adults are acting as if Latino students are not, on average, academically 2.8 grades behind their white peers or if Latinos did not face an achievement gap as high as 40%.


But we guess that is not as important to some. At least it was not apparent in most of the emails we reviewed between teachers, some parents, district staff and school board members.


Voces Unidas regularly requests public records from government entities, including the Roaring Fork School District. These records include email communication sent and received by employees of the school district as well as the five elected school board members. We also request formal contracts and other records of public interest.


This is how we found out about the tiff that some people are having about the superintendent's licensure requirement.


On the surface, a violation of an employment contract by the highest-ranking school district leader does sound very serious. This is on top of the insinuation that the former HR director was terminated inappropriately because she found out about the licensure clause violation. Yikes.


In this blog, we are only going to focus on the licensure issue.


Here is what we found out when we researched the issue and reviewed public records:


RFSD has included a licensure requirement clause to superintendent contracts dating back to at least 2016


Voces Unidas examined copies of at least two RFSD superintendent contracts.


It's true that the current superintendent's contract does have a clause that required the superintendent to obtain an administrator license by December 31, 2022. It's also true that the clause calls for an automatic termination if this requirement is not met. Here is a screenshot of the language in Dr. Jesús Rodríguez's employment contract:

We also found out that the former superintendent's employment contract also had a very similar clause and requirement. Note that Dr. Rob Stein's contract also included an "automatic termination for cause" if he did not have an administrator license. Here is a screenshot of the language:


Stein never had an administrator license; Rodríguez obtained his on March 23, 2023


Voces Unidas reviewed public records to verify and confirm all expired and active licenses obtained by the current and former superintendents of the RFSD.


According to the Colorado Department of Education, Dr. Stein never had an administrator license during his entire tenure with the school district, even though his contract required him to have one at all times. He did have an active principal license, but that is different than what his contract required. Here is a screenshot of the state's license records for "Robert L. Stein":

Since we were already searching for licenses, we also looked up Judy Haptonstall and found that she, too, never had an administrator license while she served as RFSD superintendent. Also, none of the current neighboring school district superintendents have administrator licenses -- probably because it is not required to have one to serve in the role of superintendent in the state of Colorado.


But guess who does have one now? While it is true that Dr. Rodríguez obtained his current license after the December 31, 2022 deadline in his employment contract, he is now the only superintendent in the region to actually hold an administrator license with a superintendent endorsement. Here is a screenshot of the state's license records for "Jesus G. Rodriguez":

Our final thoughts


It is true and fair to say that this current school board and the last school board and every other school board since Dr. Stein was hired at one point decided not to enforce or care about this licensure clause in the superintendent's contract.


It's also true that the former HR director was also the HR director under Stein. So why the drastic change in tune from one administration to another about this one specific, meaningless clause that apparently most superintendents and boards ignored until 2023?


And why the selective outrage now from specific groups and personalities? Where was this urgency for accountability between 2016 and 2021?


Or has this never been about the contract and are other agendas at work here?


At Voces Unidas, we don't have a problem with demands for accountability of elected officials and public servants. Hell, that is what we do as an organization.


We do, however, have a problem with selective outrage or selective accountability, especially when it feels a bit like "nice racism".

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