Social studies review committee presentation pulled from Garfield Re-2 School Board agenda

Westley Crouch
For the Post Independent

Parents and community members waiting to see the type of social studies lessons Garfield Re-2 students will be learning might be waiting a little longer. 

After months of hosting public forums, conducting surveys and assembling a social studies review committee, the Garfield Re-2 School Board was slated to hear the review committee’s recommendations and likely vote on adopting a social studies standard on Wednesday. Both the committee presentation and vote are now technically not happening on paper, since the agenda item has been pulled.

The only way the review committee’s presentation can be reestablished depends on whether the board approves putting the item back on the agenda at the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting.

The district did not confirm why the social studies presentation was pulled from Wednesday’s agenda or who made the decision. The district, however, explained that the decision to omit this agenda item adheres to school board policy.

“Per policy BEDB, the school board agenda is developed by the superintendent in cooperation with the board president,” Re-2 Director of Communications Theresa Hamilton said. 

In other words, Superintendent Heather Grumley or Board President Tony May can legally pull an agenda item prior to the next meeting.

Tony May.

During the end of a regular board meeting two weeks ago, Grumley openly discussed the review committee’s upcoming presentation. 

“Oct. 25 is pretty loaded,” she said on Oct. 11. “That is the evening of which two things on the agenda. One is the actual social studies presentation in which the review committee will be coming forward with our community directors.”

Since May, the school district has been deciding whether to adopt one of three options for its social studies curriculum: the 2022 Adopted Colorado Social Studies Standards, the Revised 2022 Social Studies Standards, or the American Birthright Standards (ABS). 

According to review committee member Brett Conant, the committee planned to recommend that the district implement the Adopted 2022 Colorado Academic Social Studies Standards, which is the current state standard.

ABS, considered to be conservative social studies program that was rejected by the Colorado Board of Education in October 2022, has been openly supported by both May and fellow Board Member Britton Fletchall. Despite the review board’s recommendation, May and Fletchall have said during previous meetings they would not support state social studies standards.

May and Fletchall did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Britton Fletchall.

There is currently one school district in Colorado that has adopted ABS. The Woodland Park School District in Teller County adopted ABS in early January, and new documents obtained by the Post Independent reveal multiple email exchanges between May and the Woodland Park School District. 

“Thank you for being part of taking back our school districts from the clutches of the socialists. I too am a Patriot and rally to the front as I see your initiative and fortitude,” May wrote to Woodland Park School District Board Vice President David Illingworth II, who is a supporter of ABS, on May 10. “Tonight our board will be adopting the parental rights resolution that your board passed earlier. To god and country.”

May’s email exchanges from April also show he was in contact with David Randall, executive director of Civics Alliance, the organization that originally published ABS.

Advocating further for ABS adoption, May attempted to facilitate a board workshop with Lis Richard, billed as an educational consultant and trainer who works with private, Christian and charter schools. May claimed in the email that Richard “has a blueprint that has already been vetted and tested with the state.”

In a follow-up email with the district, Stephanie Hartman, a social studies content specialist for the Colorado Department of Education (CDOE), said she had never heard of Richard, nor had she ever heard of Richard’s company.

“The state does not ‘vet’ curriculum or instructional materials,” Hartman wrote to the district on June 6. “So, if (Richard) says she has a blueprint vetted by the CDE, that is not true.”

If the board does not vote on ABS on Wednesday, the district’s next meeting isn’t until after the 2023 school board election.

Wednesday’s Garfield Re-2’s school board meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Learning Opportunity Center, 839 Whiteriver Ave. in Rifle. 

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