Keeping ‘advisory’ role

Dan McMinimee out as Jeffco superintendent, ending awkward period after board vote to search for replacement

PHOTO: Cyrus McCrimmon, The Denver Post
JeffCo Public Schools Superintendent Dan McMinimee, at his office, in 2014 during his second week on the job.

Dan McMinimee has stepped down as superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools effective immediately, but will take an advisory role through the end of his contract, the district announced Thursday.

The announcement portrayed the move as a mutual decision of McMinimee and the school board, which voted nearly two months ago to launch a search for a new superintendent while allowing McMinimee to finish out his contract.

“The Board thanks Dan McMinimee for his service and commitment to Jeffco Public Schools and wishes him the best in his future endeavors,” board president Ron Mitchell said in the released statement.

Mitchell spoke to Chalkbeat later calling the change “an agreement that’s largely a role redefinition.”

Mitchell said that after the board’s vote to start a search for a new superintendent, the parties “felt pretty good,” but then, “I think that became somewhat uncomfortable for Dan.”

McMinimee said the new agreement came from “mutual conversations.”

“It became apparent there are distractions in terms of what my focus is moving forward,” McMinimee said. “With some of the pressures, I have trying to secure another position.”

But he said the change should be a benefit for him and for the 86,000-student district, the second largest in Colorado.

“Making sure the day-to-day operations are being taken care of is everyone’s priority,” McMinimee said. “It just felt like this was a great opportunity.”

McMinimee’s precise role in Jeffco until his contract ends June 30 is unclear. The release said McMinimee would serve in an “advisory capacity” and will “assist as needed in the transition.”

McMinimee said Thursday that he and Mitchell will work out the details of the “special projects” he will work on during the next few months.

Terry Elliott, Jeffco’s chief school effectiveness officer, will serve as interim superintendent.

But he won’t stick around past June, either. Earlier Thursday, the School District 27J in Brighton announced Elliott would be principal of the district’s new high school. The role starts July 1.

McMinimee was hired in the summer of 2014 by a split board. A year later, the three members who approved McMinimee’s hire were recalled.

The newer Jeffco school board voted in January to start the search for a new superintendent, and a firm just completed public meetings to get input about what qualities they should look for in candidates. The job is being advertised with a base salary of $300,000.

When the board voted to launch the search for a new superintendent, board members said they didn’t have specific problems or concerns with McMinimee’s performance but wanted to see if they might find a person who could be better for the job.

According to McMinimee’s contract, if he is released before his contract expires at the end of June, he is to receive a year’s worth of his base salary, which is $220,000. If McMinimee chose to break the contract to leave on his own, the district could charge him for damages.

The school board held a closed session Feb. 16 to seek legal advice about the superintendent’s contract, according to the district. No details of that meeting were made public.

It’s not immediately clear what agreement the board reached with McMinimee. The district’s announcement said the board will vote on a new agreement at their March 9 board meeting. The agreement is not to be released before it is signed and finalized, according to McMinimee and Mitchell.

Where they stand

Where candidates for governor in Michigan stand on major education issues

There’s a lot at stake for students, parents, and educators in this year’s Michigan governor’s race.

The next governor, who will replace term-limited Republican Rick Snyder, could determine everything from how schools are funded to how they’re measured and judged. Some candidates have called for shuttering low-performing schools across the state. Others have called for charter schools to get some additional oversight.

To see where major party candidates stand on crucial education issues, Chalkbeat joined with our partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative to ask candidates for their views on school funding, early childhood education, and paying for college.

All seven major-party candidates on the ballot in Michigan’s August 7 primary were invited to sit down with the journalism cooperative, which also includes Bridge Magazine, WDET Radio, Michigan Radio, Detroit Public Television, and New Michigan Media, to answer a range of questions.

Six candidates — three Democrats and three Republicans — accepted our invitation. The one candidate who declined was Attorney General Bill Schuette, who is generally considered the Republican frontrunner.

The candidates were largely asked a standard set of questions. We’ve printed below some of their answers to each question, edited for length and clarity. The interviews were filmed, and the candidates’ full responses to the education questions can be seen here.

in their own words

Watch candidates who want to be Michigan’s next governor explain how they would fix state schools

PHOTO: Detroit Journalism Cooperative
Six of the major candidates of governor in Michigan — three Democrats and three Republicans — answered questions from reporters with the Detroit Journalism Cooperative including Chalkbeat Detroit.

One candidate to become Michigan’s next governor said he would end state-funded preschool and childcare. Another said early education should be available to all children and paid for by the state.

Some gubernatorial contenders want to put an end to for-profit charter schools. Others are adamant that parents should have as many options as possible when it comes to education.

Chalkbeat, together with our partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative, which includes five other news organizations, sat down this month with six of the major candidates for governor to discuss a range of issues facing the state. One major party candidate, Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, declined to participate.

Primary voters will go to the polls August 7 to nominate party candidates. The winners of those contests will face off in the general election in November.

To read a summary of each candidate’s answers to crucial education questions, click here.

Or, hear candidates’ full responses by clicking on their videos below.