Colo. Ed Board Members Who Pushed AP History Changes May Face Recall

Three conservative members of the Jefferson County school board in Colorado may face consequences for seeking unpopular changes to the AP U.S. History course last year.

Critics of the school board on Tuesday submitted more than double the number of petition signatures needed to order recall votes for three members of the school board in the November election, according to the Denver Post.

“The message is clear, the people of Jefferson County want to hold this board majority accountable and demand a recall vote on November 3,” Tina Gurdikian, one of the co-founders of Jeffco United For Action, the group that organized the petitions, said on Tuesday, according to Chalkbeat Colorado.

“They really are driving away our teachers by showing a great amount of disrespect for them,” Wendy McCord, Gurdikian’s co-founder at Jeffco United For Action said of the school board, according to the Associated Press. “They are dismissive of students and parents who have concerns and try to express them as well.”

The board members — Ken Witt, Julie Williams and John Newkirk — have been criticized by students and parents for their attempted changes to the AP U.S. History curriculum.

After the College Board released a new framework for the course, which was unpopular with conservatives across the country, the newly-elected conservative faction on the Jefferson County board of education attempted to alter the College Board’s changes. The JeffCo board set out to form a curriculum review committee that would make sure that the AP U.S. History course presented “positive aspects of the United States and its heritage” and did not “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

Following massive student protests in Jefferson County, the board ultimately canceled its review of the AP history curriculum.

Jefferson County residents have also recently expressed disapproval of the board’s raise for the school district’s superintendent and their salary negotiations with teachers, according to the Denver Post.

Now that the petitions have been submitted, the clerk has 15 days to verify the signatures, and then the petitions face a 15-day protest period. If the petitions are protested, the Jefferson County school district would have to fund a costly special election. Otherwise, the recall elections will take place in the November general election.

School Board President Ken Witt, one of the members who faces a recall, won’t protest the petitions and said he is not worried about the potential for a recall election.

“I’m disappointed that there is a distraction, but we’re going to remain focused on what we heard loudly from voters (in 2013),” Witt told Denver television station KUSA.

Dear Reader,

When we asked recently what makes TPM different from other outlets, readers cited factors like honesty, curiosity, transparency, and our vibrant community. They also pointed to our ability to report on important stories and trends long before they are picked up by mainstream outlets; our ability to contextualize information within the arc of history; and our focus on the real-world consequences of the news.

Our unique approach to reporting and presenting the news, however, wouldn’t be possible without our readers’ support. That’s not just marketing speak, it’s true: our work would literally not be possible without readers deciding to become members. Not only does member support account for more than 80% of TPM’s revenue, our members have helped us build an engaged and informed community. Many of our best stories were born from reader tips and valuable member feedback.

We do what other news outlets can’t or won’t do because our members’ support gives us real independence.

If you enjoy reading TPM and value what we do, become a member today.

Latest Livewire
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Director of Audience:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: