DENVER – The Douglas County School Board has voted 4-3 Tuesday to hire Erin Kane as the school district’s next superintendent.
Kane is currently the Executive Director of Schools for American Academyand she previously served as acting superintendent of the Douglas County School District from 2016 to 2018.
In her public talk with the board on March 3, Kane pledged to “carry out the will of the board,” change the culture within the district, and said teachers should be “allowed to do what they do the best”.
A nearly three-hour public comment preceded the vote after more than 100 community members registered to speak.
“[Erin Kane’s] record speaks for itself,” said a community member. “As a community, we need to think about making the children of the district a top priority with a leader who can help them achieve academic excellence and have a bright future in a first, sought-after neighborhood.”
“Hiring Erin Kane will only further divide our community,” said another.
Board member Becky Myers offered to name Kane the sole finalist for superintendent. This motion was seconded by Board Vice-Chair Christy Williams.
Board member David Ray then offered to nominate Danny Winsor as the sole finalist for the position of superintendent. This motion was seconded by Board Member Elizabeth Hanson, but was later defeated by a 3-4 vote.
Winsor is the Executive Director of Parker Area Schools in the Douglas County School District. Both Kane and Winsor have participated in panel interviews and board interviews over the past month.
During the discussion, Ray acknowledged Kane’s record but said Winsor would be a less controversial choice.
“We have such an opportunity tonight to do something quite amazing and send a message to our community that we can come together, that we can rally behind a leader, but more importantly, we can rally behind the symbolism that says this is a person we believe can bring us together,” Ray said. “…and it’s not because Erin isn’t an exceptional leader, she is. But there are so many unfortunate circumstances surrounding his candidacy.”
Board member Susan Meek agreed, saying Winsor would be a better candidate to rebuild trust between the board and the community.
Board member Kaylee Winegar, who spoke via Zoom after giving birth hours before the meeting, agreed Winsor was a great candidate but expressed support for Kane.
“I think they both have heart…however, one was more confident, brave, and unafraid to challenge the narrative,” Winegar said. “Although we can’t go wrong with Danny, I will vote for Erin.”
Board Chairman Mike Peterson said he would trust Winsor and Kane as superintendent, but voted for Kane.
“I see someone in Erin Kane who can not only represent the voice of teachers and give them a voice in the district and honor that voice, but also be strong,” Peterson said. “I also see someone who respects the role of the parent in this relationship, who will honor the teachers, who will insist that the parents treat the teachers with respect, but who will also understand that the parent has the primary role in the upbringing of her child, whether it’s health decisions, whether it’s curriculum decisions, what to enroll, what to opt out.”
Myers, Peterson, Williams and Winegar voted to approve the motion to name Kane the sole finalist, while Hanson, Meek and Ray voted no.
After the vote, Kane was brought up via Zoom and allowed to speak. She began by thanking council and Danny Windsor, then addressed the conflict in the district – which was highlighted throughout the meeting in both public comments and council discussion.
“I know there is so much conflict in our district, and I will commit to working with all seven trustees on the board and making sure that I represent all seven trustees in the work that I do following the guidelines of the board,” Kane said. “We can’t change the conflict in our world or in our country, but I think we can work here in Douglas County if we all work together to listen to each other, understand each other’s concerns, and j would have the lead privilege that bridges that gap.”
Kane said during this public interview that although she is a Republican, she does not see a role for political parties in running a school district.
“I want to hear all the good ideas. I want to listen and put no political agenda on any of this,” Kane said. “…I’m happy to engage and talk to anyone. I like talking to people who disagree with me or think they disagree. I just need to be really solution-oriented and want the best for the kids.
She said she supports a potential factory tax waiver this year, but with clear purpose, transparency and communication about what is at stake for voters. She said the measure should be targeted and supported the focus on teacher and staff compensation and the new building, as no new neighborhood schools have been built in the district since 2011. she declared.
She completed her answers to questions from administrators during the March 3 public interview by saying that a compensation structure would be extremely important to put in place because “teachers need something they can see and they can count when they arrive in this district”.
Some majority members of the board had spoken with Kane even before he fired former superintendent Corey Wise without cause at a Feb. 4 meeting — conversations that came to light even before Wise was terminated.
Kane confirmed in a statement to the families of the American Academy on February 17 that Peterson had asked him to consider the position of superintendent. More details surfaced on February 22, when the Douglas County News-Press broke the story on conversations regarding majority board members discussing Wise’s firing. The story also detailed how Kane texted Wise with his contract language while Wise was talking with some of the minority board members.
Lawyers representing Wise filed a vast demand for open documents February 18 for all records, emails, and digital communications regarding Wise’s dismissal and other communications and decisions involving the district and wise. The attorneys also advised the district to preserve evidence related to Wise’s dismissal.
To follow the entire meeting, Click here.