Parental notice rule irks Colorado schools |

Parental notice rule irks Colorado schools

Monte Whaley
The Denver Post

A proposal requiring all Colorado school districts to notify parents within 24 hours if a school employee has been arrested or charged with a serious crime is drawing fire from education groups.

A hearing to discuss the new parental notification requirement will be held at the State Board of Education meeting Wednesday.

Board chairman Bob Schaffer is drafting the proposal in response to recent disclosures that officials at the Poudre School District in Fort Collins did not tell parents about the felony arrests of two former employees.

“The goal here is to let parents know that someone who has been in proximity to their children has been arrested,” said Schaffer. “At least they should be informed of the public record.”

However, both the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado Association of School Boards are attacking the idea. They say the state board lacks the legal authority to pass such a rule, which they say is unfair to employees and school districts.

The rules “do not strike a balance between protecting the school district’s staff from having their reputations and community standing harmed (or destroyed) on the one hand, and protecting children on the other,” said Wendy Armstrong, associate director of member legal resources for the school board association.

The Poudre District e-mailed parents about the November arrest of T.J. Skillman, a Preston Middle School paraprofessional, only after officials learned the Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper was reporting the arrest. The Coloradoan obtained e-mails showing that district officials were not going to inform parents about the arrest unless the media found out and started asking questions.

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