Colorado

DPS critic linked to fake Seawell email

An EdNews analysis of Internet records links a local publisher and longtime DPS critic to two emails sent in recent weeks to Denver Public Schools staff and others, including one email that may appear to be sent by school board President Mary Seawell.

Election 2012 LogoThe email address used by Guerin Green, the publisher of neighborhood newspapers in Northwest Denver and in Cherry Creek, is the contact on the account that registered maryseawell.com, the domain used to send an email critical of Denver Public Schools and its bond proposal to thousands of DPS employees on Oct. 16.

Green said his company registered the domain name but that he had nothing to do with the content of the site or with sending the related email.

“Just because my company may host a website doesn’t mean we have anything to do with the content,” he said.

He declined to release the identity of the person or persons for whom he registered the domain name, saying “That’s information that we could keep confidential with our client.”

Seawell, an outspoken advocate for the bond issue, said she received dozens of phone calls and messages after the Oct. 16 email was sent. It also went out to some DPS parents and others active in the district or Denver education circles.

Seawell declined much comment on Green’s link to the email, saying she was investigating online records and exploring her legal options.

“I want to make sure I have all the information before I jump to any conclusions,” she said.

In addition, online records show a total of four domain names hosted on the same IP address as that of maryseawell.com. The other three are stopdpsdebtnow.com, charterpimps.com and thecherrycreeknews.com.

Both maryseawell.com and stopdpsdebtnow.com are listed as held by Domains by Proxy, a company that allows those registering websites to keep their identities secret. Green is listed as the contact for both charterpimps.com and thecherrycreeknews.com, the online home of the newspaper he owns.

Asked about stopdpsdebtnow.com, Green replied, “What is that?” and added, “My company has registered probably 100 websites.”

The first email, sent Oct. 3, includes the subject line “Save our schools from drowning in debt” and lists three concerns about the district’s financial state, including “Denver Public Schools is $25,000 in debt for each child currently in school.” It directs readers to the stopdpsdebtnow.com website, which contains no information about who’s behind it.

The email is listed as coming from “foerign@stopdpsdebtnow.com” and contains no signature or author. Green said he did not author the email or create the website’s content.

In response to the email, David Suppes, the district’s chief operating officer, sent an email to district staff refuting the “misinformation” in the Oct. 3 “spam” email and noting, “Our AA credit rating is clear evidence of the soundness of our financial situation.”

That prompted the Oct. 16 email to DPS staff and others, this one purporting to come from “dpsboardpresident@maryseawell.com” and describing Suppes’ email as “spam.” At the end of the lengthy email, which is critical of the district and its bond proposal, is the signoff: “Not the real Mary Seawell (obviously).”

The site, maryseawell.com, is blank. In previous weeks, the URL had directed viewers to the stopdpsdebtnow.com site.

Seawell said she was not aware of the site bearing her name until a reporter pointed it out to her several weeks ago. Online records show it was created Sept. 15. Green linked to maryseawell.com from a Cherry Creek News story posted online Oct. 2.

Green, who has two children in DPS neighborhood and magnet programs, is a longtime critic of DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg and his predecessor Michael Bennet. More recently, he has taken aim at Seawell, posting Sunday on the No on Denver 3B Facebook page that she has become “the etch-a-sketch, say anything Mitt Romney of Denver politics … the worst of politics in a smiling, patronizing package.”

No on Denver 3B, a group organized to fight the bond proposal, has denied any involvement in the emails sent to DPS staff and others. Earleen Brown, a spokeswoman for the group, said, “We have attached our name to all communications from the campaign.”

Friday, the political blog site ColoradoPols.com was the first to link Green to the fake Seawell website. The post also describes Green as an “ally” of DPS board member Andrea Merida, who also opposes the DPS bond measure.

Merida and Green have worked together in the past, including passing out fliers outside a Stand for Children meeting and creating a blog post criticizing DPS reforms that appeared on a Philadelphia school news website.

But Merida denied any involvement in maryseawell.com, stopdpsdebtnow.com or the two emails sent to DPS staff and others.

“I have nothing to do with it,” she said in response to an email asking for comment.

EdNews reporter Julie Poppen and technology specialist Jon Sisk contributed to this report.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

More in What's Your Education Story?

School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.


For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.


Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.