Controversial DPS board member Merida blogs her secret swearing-in

Andrea Merida made headlines November 30 for secretly finding a judge to swear her in before a Denver Public School board meeting so that she could vote on school turnaround plans.

Now she’s blogging her explanation.

Andrea Merida
Andrea Merida

Merida argues that she was not sworn in early; it was just that the other newly elected board members were sworn in late. The election was certified on November 19 at 3 p.m., and the district then had 10 days in which to swear in candidates, she noted. So, she argued, all candidates should have been sworn in when she was, at 3 p.m., instead of at 7 p.m., too late to vote on the turnaround plans.

It’s a reasonable explanation, but one that leaves out all details on why Merida didn’t choose to handle the situation more civilly– that is, why she chose the stealth ceremony that would end in her publicly ejecting her predecessor in a sort of ambush just before the meeting.

Merida also writes that the decision not to swear in new candidates until 7 p.m. was a deliberate attempt to control the outcome of the vote:

The idea for the 10-day window is to allow flexibility due to extenuating circumstances, not to stretch it out as far as possible to force through policies.

She then went on to cite nearby Douglas County as a shining example, rearranging events there to work in her favor:

Now, as an additional dynamic, consider what happened in Douglas County.  There were some charter school approvals on the agenda for their next meeting, but because election certification would not be completed in time to swear in the newly elected board members, the previous board voted to table the decision until AFTER the new board members would be sworn in…so that they could vote on the approvals.

Actually, according to reporting by The Colorado Independent, the new charter school itself asked for the delayed vote, in order to deal with late feedback from district staff. District staff—not the school board—granted the extension.

Merida did not address, in that post, the fact that her actions—and the ensuing kerfuffle—led the board to devote a planned “teambuilding and leadership” retreat to instead dealing with tensions among board members. In another post, however, she defended the board’s decision to hold the meeting at the luxury Broadmoor Hotel, citing the Colorado Association of School Board conference there later that weekend. She also noted that the woman leading the session was a marriage counselor, but also a discussion facilitator.

“So, we are not meeting at a luxury retreat at the Broadmoor with a marriage counselor,” she wrote.

Except, that by all accounts, they were.

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