Recently, there has been much hullabaloo about the Jefferson County School Board’s decision to hire an attorney.  Some have cried that this new school board skirted Sunshine Laws, laws mandating that government go through a public interview process when hiring vendors.  But. how has this board fared regarding “sunshine” in the past? (Hint: not so great, just ask Paula Noonan, who wrote an op-ed for The Denver Post.)

Jefferson County concerned parent Derec Schuler also penned an opinion piece about the lengths the new reform-minded school board has gone to in order to increase transparency.  But, the real question is why these new ways of doing business were needed.  Former Jefferson County School Board member Laura Boogs shines light on why these reforms are important:

“There are a ton of times we could chat about where ‘run roughshod’ would be an accurate description of the contracting process of the previous board leadership.  I think it is important to applaud the current board for having this conversation in public and for increasing transparency. The board has used an attorney before and never had this conversation in public.  In fact, the board has not had conversations about many of the professionals they and the district hired to provide services.”

Boggs is right and what the Peak found on the Jeffco Schools transparency web site was shocking. Union apologist and supporter Jeffco School Board President Lesley Dahlkemper is going to wish she hadn’t run to The Denver Post with half of a story.

PeakNation™, do you remember the time that the Jefferson County School Board spent over $1.8 million in four years on legal services?  What, you didn’t hear about it?  Hm.  Neither did we.  For the record, the school board has paid law firm Caplan and Earnest over $1.8 million in legal fees since July 2009.  In 2013 alone, the total is over $418,000.  We searched The Denver Post‘s website.  We found a few “People on the Moves”, but no article on Caplan and Earnest’s contract with Jeffco.

Then, there’s the unholy, incestuous relationship between Dahlkemper’s Schoolhouse Communications and Jefferson County School Board.  Dahlkemper is the President and CEO.  Listed in the “About Us” on Schoolhouse Communications are Marilyn Saltzman and Nada Giunta.

Marilyn Saltzman, listed as Schoolhouse Communications’ Senior Project Director, has brought in nearly $270,000 in contracts from the Jefferson County School Board.  Nada Graphics, owned by Nada Guinta, Schoolhouse’s Graphic Designer, has received over $26,000 in contracts.  While WatchDog Wire has reported on this odd “coincidence”, neither of these individuals with financial ties to Dahlkemper have been been reported in The Denver Post.  But, nobody has reported on the nepotism in the previous board’s contracting process.

Carrie Kollar and her husband David work on Jeffco’s truancy issue, and they’ve been paid over $315,000 since July 2009.  Never heard of Kollar?  Perhaps you’ve heard of her dad, Dave Thomas.  The very same Dave Thomas who used to be the president of the Jeffco School Board.

We, at the Peak, are sure there were more instances of unusual contracting practices that happened within the Jeffco School Board.  Drop us a line at [email protected] if you have additional information on odd contracting processes in Jeffco.  Let’s give Lesley Dahlkemper a hand here, PeakNation™, since she’s so concerned about school board contracting.