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Education Committee chair steps down

Steven K. Paulson
The Associated Press
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

DENVER ” A Democratic lawmaker stepped down as chairman of the House Education Committee on Friday, apologizing for writing an e-mail that said charter-school supporters should have “a special place in hell.”

Rep. Mike Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs, also cited his battle with cancer.

“I deeply regret my strong language and disrespectful tone,” Merrifield told his colleagues. “I don’t want my remarks or my health to sidetrack the important work of the House Education Committee.”



Merrifield will remain a member of the education panel. He asked Democrat Judy Solano of Brighton to take over the duties of chairman.

Merrifield had e-mailed his counterpart, Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Sue Windels, that “there must be a special place in hell for these privatizers, charterizers and voucherizers. They deserve it.”



That prompted Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, to ask House Speaker Andrew Romanoff to remove Merrifield from the education panel.

“He has lost the confidence of the committee, and 7 percent of our charter schools that are public schools,” Gardner said.

Merrifield said he has made no secret of his frustrations with the direction charter schools have gone.

“I am sorry for any offense taken,” Merrifield told the House. “I regret if they have cause misunderstanding, hurt or offense,” Merrifield told the House. “I never meant to disparage the parents who are advocating for their children’s best interests.”

The e-mail was posted on the facethestate.com blog.


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