One in four Colorado school districts are violating state transparency law

Only 57 percent of Colorado school districts fully comply with a state transparency law, independent watchdog group Colorado Ethics Watch has found.

The group examined the websites of 177 Colorado school boards between January and July 2016 to see how many were posting minutes of their school board meetings in a timely manner, as is required by law. That law, which went into effect in June 2014, says school boards must post the minutes within 10 days of approving them.

Colorado Ethics Watch determined that 43 percent were not complying. 

“We’re pleased that so many school districts are in full compliance, but the percentage is still too low,” said Luis Toro, executive director of Colorado Ethics Watch.  

Of those noncompliant school districts, 24 percent — 42 in total — either did not approve their minutes or approved but did not post them. Nineteen percent posted no information about school board meetings, at all. These (mostly very small) districts may have not held any meetings — or they, too, may be out of compliance.

Colorado government entities are typically expected to maintain their minutes as public documents, but Senate Bill 14-182 was the first in the state to specifically require that the minutes be posted online.

Toro said that transparency among school districts is important for communities.

“School board business is of great interest to those living and sending their children to school in that district, and those citizens have a right to easily access information about the decisions made by their elected representatives,” he said.

Among those district following the law: Adams County, Cherry Creek, Denver Public Schools and Douglas County.

Adams 12 Five Star Schools was found to be in violation of the transparency law, the group reported.

Photo credit: Bret Levin, Creative Commons, Flickr

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported, based on information provided by Colorado Ethics Watch, that Jefferson County School District was in violation of the state’s transparency law. The district is fully compliant.