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Douglas County School Board announces finalists for superintendent, with Kane not among them

School board expects to make decision on April 5


The Douglas County School Board has announced three finalists for the permanent superintendent position, which has been vacant since the departure of Elizabeth Fagen in July 2016.

Interim Superintendent Erin Kane is not among the finalists.

School board President David Ray said he could not comment on why Kane wasn't selected as a finalist, but he commended her work in the school district over the past 18 months. The three finalists — each a superintendent for a district much smaller than the Douglas County School District — have "unique" skill sets, talents and gifts that will help the district move forward, he said.

"In our interviews with them, we really felt that they were very passionate and knew Douglas County well. All of them did their research," Ray said. "They weren’t just looking for another superintendent position. They were looking for Douglas County — they wanted to be in Douglas County."

Kane declined to comment on the board's decision. 

According to a March 29 email to Douglas County families from Ray, the three finalists to lead the district of 68,000 students are:

  • Educational specialist Karen Brofft, superintendent of the Lewis-Palmer School District in Monument. In her 28 years of experience in Colorado school districts, including 20 years in Douglas County, Brofft has held the positions of classroom teacher, building resource teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment, assistant superintendent and superintendent.
  • Daniel Clemens, superintendent of North Kansas City Schools in Kansas City, Missouri. He has 23 years of experience serving in Missouri public school systems. He has held the positions of classroom teacher, assistant coach, physical education coordinator, principal, director of human resources, assistant superintendent of administrative services and superintendent.
  • Thomas Tucker, the current superintendent of Princeton City Schools in Cincinnati. He has 29 years of experience serving in the Kansas and Ohio public school systems as classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of secondary curriculum and superintendent.

In December, the Douglas County School Board contracted with an executive search firm to find candidates that met qualifications gathered from online surveys, community input meetings and board priorities, according to Ray's email. The board received more than 1,100 inquiries from nearly every state.

“Of those that ultimately submitted applications, the search firm screened and narrowed the pool of candidates based on their match to the leadership profile,” Ray said. “From there, the Board of Education screened the candidates and selected the finalists.”

The leadership profile was established in February by the school board and traits sought included strong communication skills, experience recruiting and maintaining exceptional staff, commitment to a “student first” philosophy and previous experience that will benefit the long-term financial health of the district.

In January, Kane announced that she would apply for the permanent superintendent position. She was hired in 2016 after Fagen resigned and took a position in the Humble Independent School District in Texas.

Many teachers and parents blamed Fagen, who was hired in 2010 by a school board majority of reform-minded members, for policies that led to an exodus of teachers and administrators over the past several years. During her tenure, the school board severed ties with the teachers' union.

Kane helped found charter school American Academy, which has a location in Castle Pines and two in Parker. Executive director of the school from 2013 until taking the interim DCSD position, she pointed to her leadership of the school's community in her bid to win the job.

In January 2016, the Douglas County School Board extended Kane's contract through the 2017-18 school year.

Hiring a permanent superintendent was a hot topic leading up to last year's school board election, when voters elected four anti-reform candidates, Kevin Leung, Krista Holtzmann, Chris Schor and Anthony Graziano, who in their campaigns promoted a nationwide superintendent search. They joined like-minded members Ray, Wendy Vogel and Anne-Marie Lemieux on the board.

In an evaluation released last fall, the seven school board members at the time — which included Ray, Vogel and Lemieux, and four pro-reform members — rated Kane based on four criteria: creating a work environment to increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover, bringing stability to the district, performing budget analysis and communicating the need for a mill levy and bond tax measure.

Ray and Lemieux gave Kane generally low marks compared to those given by Vogel and the reform-minded board members.

Laura Mutton, founder of Strong Schools Coalition, an organization composed of parents, students, teachers and community with an interest in the school district, said she has faith the school board is making the right decision given the community input it has received.

"I'd assume if Kane didn’t make the cut, she didn't match up with what the community was asking for," said Mutton, whose child went to Douglas County schools.

The school board will host a series of meetings in the upcoming week before making a decision on the permanent superintendent.

  • On April 2, finalists will meet with a series of focus groups, comprising randomly selected staff, educators, parents, community members and students. At 5 p.m., the board will interview the candidates in the DCSD Board Room, 620 Wilcox St., Castle Rock. The meeting will be live streamed at https://livestream.com/DCSDK12/events/8129785.
  • At 5:30 p.m. April 3, the public is invited to Chaparral High School, 15655 Brookstone Drive, in Parker to meet the finalists, ask questions and provide feedback to the board. The moderated discussion will be live streamed at https://livestream.com/DCSDK12/events/7555225.
  • At 6 p.m. April 5, the board will hold a special meeting in the DCSD Board Room to announce a sole finalist for the permanent superintendent position. The meeting will be live streamed at https://livestream.com/DCSDK12/events/8129771.

The board is excited to present the three finalists to the community, Ray said.

“I am proud to be part of a Board of Education who values staff and community engagement and maintains a focus on what is best for our students,” Ray said in his email. “We hope you will accept our invitation to get to know these candidates by attending next week's board sessions and/or the moderated discussion.”


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