The Douglas County School Board is being sued for its nonconventional antics once again. One of the groups that sued to end the controversial Douglas County voucher program now claims the school board’s plan to ask voters to endorse ending collective bargaining with the teachers union is illegal. A school district lacks the authority or ability to place a referendum on a ballot under the Colorado Constitution, Taxpayers for Public Education said in a Facebook posting.
The referendum was first discussed at the Aug. 21 board meeting, where members proposed the potential questions for the November general election ballot. The questions will be discussed again Sept. 4. The board has until Sept. 7 to decide whether any of the questions will be placed on the Nov. 6 ballot. The questions are fashioned in a manner to prohibit the traditional bargaining undertaken by the district and the teachers’ union and effectively bust the union by disallowing collection of union dues from teacher paychecks.
Board president John Carson said it was important the community be a part of the process. “We need to consider asking the voters whether we have approached this properly,” he said at the Aug. 21 meeting. There is no current collective bargaining agreement in the district because the union and board failed to agree to terms in June, when the prior contract expired. The suggested referendum is a clear ploy to bust the teachers union and leave teachers in Douglas County with no collective bargaining power.
While the board goes to voters for approval of a mil levy increase, it cannot go to them with a referendum on a policy matter, said Brenda Smith, president of the Douglas County Federation of Teachers. A Colorado Secretary of State spokesman has said any opposition group would have to make challenges before the county clerk certified the question for the ballot.