Jeffco Board of Education’s housecleaning begins

Housecleaning has begun for the newly elected Jefferson County Board of Education.

Brad Miller, the attorney hired by the conservative majority that was ousted in this month’s recall election, resigned this morning.

Miller was hired by the Jeffco board just a month after the November, 2013 election, a hiring that some have claimed violated the state’s open meetings law.

In his resignation email to board liaison Helen Neal, Miller cited the incoming school board’s desire to use the district’s legal counsel and statements by new board members that they would not need a private attorney.

He also cited a comment from new board member Amanda Stevens, made to The Colorado Independent on election night, that “we will not continue with Brad Miller.”

Miller’s resignation takes effect in 15 days, or around December 1.

Miller also has resigned as board attorney for the Loveland-based Thompson School district, citing similar statements made by its new board majority.

Voters rejected the conservative majority on election night, re-electing two members who are pro-teachers union and bringing in three others from the same slate.

Miller’s work for both boards had long been shrouded in controversy. The Thompson school board president, Bob Kerrigan, announced Miller’s firm had been hired by Jeffco the day before the Jeffco board had even discussed the hiring of a board attorney. The firm was selected by Jeffco without a public bid or notice process.

Miller isn’t the only person leaving the district in the aftermath of this month’s election.

Saturday, the school district posted a job opening for a chief communications officer. Those duties have been handled lately by Novitas Communications and Michelle Balch Lyng.

Novitas, a public-relations firm, was brought in last February, under a $50,000 five-month contract, to handle “supplemental communications duties.”

Novitas was hired by Lisa Pinto, who served as communications chief for less than six months. Pinto, an attorney with no background in public education communications, was deemed unqualified by the district search committee. Hired by Superintendent Dan McMinimee, she was frequently criticized for unprofessional behavior. After Pinto resigned, Lyng became the district’s chief spokesperson.

The district’s only other communications staffer, Devan Crean, formerly worked for Novitas Communications and a host of Republican politicians and affiliated groups, including state Rep. Dan Nordberg, R-Littleton, the Pete Coors U.S. Senate campaign in 2004 and the Independence Institute.

 

Correction 11/16/15: This article originally stated that the contract with Novitas was for six months. It was for five months. 

 

Photo credit: Oscar Cortez, Creative Commons, Flickr. 

2 COMMENTS

  1. Please keep up the good reporting from JeffCo schools. Good background information on the major players, too. Thanks.

  2. To be fair, there is one other communications staffer: Jack Maher, and he does a great job with clever videos. He’s the one employee whose work is consistently visible (which is good if you’re a communications staffer!) and who really does a nice job of highlighting good stuff in the district. I believe his background was as a former 9News employee.

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