Dinosaur's compliance woes raise concerns

Moffat County Board of Education members asked the same question Thursday that they have asked at several meetings this school year: At what point are they liable if Dinosaur Community Charter School students aren't getting the quality education they're entitled to?

School district officials asked the school to show evidence it was complying with state requirements in 12 areas by Jan. 18. As of Thursday, no evidence was given for eight of those areas.

"In all fairness to Dinosaur, it's not because of a lack of willingness," Superintendent of Schools Pete Bergmann said. "Their administrator/teacher is out on medical leave, and they're scrambling."

School officials were under the impression that their oversight of the DCCS ended with ensuring that the school complied with its contract. Instead, they're required to supply evidence of compliance with state standards.

"The state indicated to us we need to go another level of monitoring. That's why we made the on-site visit," Assistant Superintendent Joel Sheridan said.

DCCS did not submit lesson plans, copies of literacy plans, a school safety plan or student report information, among others.

In some areas, DCCS officials want to just use the school district's plans and policies, but that's not a solution, Sheridan said.

"We will share, but some things need to be site-specific," he said. "There's an individualization of our policies. Our literacy policy requires a lot of thought and a lot of training."

Board of Education members have committed to keeping the school open for a year so the continuity for students is not disturbed, but they will not put themselves at risk if the school doesn't not meet required standards.

"I appreciate that they're struggling, I appreciate their good attempts, but how long do we wait before we're liable?" board member Steve Hafey asked.

There will be a follow-up meeting with DCCS officials in March.

"As we move into spring or even further into winter, we must consider whether or not we'd approve and renew their contract," Bergmann said. "Ultimately, we are the oversight and we are the ones in charge of evaluating their contract.

"At some point, the board is going to have to make a decision on whether and how long to allow them to operate outside of their contract."

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