Denver School Board Seeks New Member after Taylor’s Resignation

Would-be candidates for a freshly vacant Denver school board seat representing the city’s diverse northeast neighborhoods have two weeks to put their names up for consideration.

The Denver Public Schools board last Thursday night accepted Region 4 representative Landri Taylor’s resignation and revealed details of how it will appoint a successor.

Landri Taylor

Landri Taylor

Applications are due March 5, and the board will name a successor April 12. Under state statute, the board has 60 days to fill the vacancy.

During his tenure on the DPS board, Taylor earned praise from his colleagues for being an impassioned voice for equity who often guided the board to solutions in tough spots.

Before his 2013 appointment and subsequent election, Taylor was a key backer of controversial turnaround strategies in far northeast Denver. Those efforts included closing low-performing schools, extending the school day and opening new charter schools.

Taylor, 65, cited his wife’s health and plans to move to Aurora, where their grandchildren live, as factors in his resignation. His seat is up for reelection in 2017, which looms as a pivotal election with four seats and the balance of power on the board in play.

Among the more notable questions on the job application posted Thursday by DPS:

Why are you interested in serving on the board of education?

Please describe the level of community support you have as an applicant.
If you receive this appointment would you plan to run in November 2017?

Region 4 is DPS’s most racially diverse region, taking in the Whittier, Cole, Stapleton, Montbello and Green Valley Ranch neighborhoods. Among other factors, applicants’ race and home address are likely to be closely watched as the process unfolds.

With Taylor’s resignation, the sole African-American on the school board is at-large representative Happy Haynes, who won a tough reelection campaign in November.

During remarks Thursday, Taylor sounded his familiar message of putting kids’ interests over those of adults, and lauded the diversity of the school board.

Haynes, his colleague and friend, credited Taylor for being a strong voice in a “very tough conversation” about closing achievement gaps separating students by race and income.

“You have continued to let us know that closing (the gap) was not enough — that we need to eliminate the opportunity gap for our kids,” Haynes said.

Here are key dates for filling the seat provided by DPS:

Friday, March 4 – Applications and resumes due by 5 p.m.

Tuesday, March 8 – The board will hold a community forum at 5:30 p.m. at the Evie Dennis Campus, 4800 Telluride St. The purpose is to hear all applicants for the vacancy. Applicants will be notified of how much time they’ll have to introduce themselves and explain why they are interested in the seat. How much time they will get depends on how many people apply.

Monday, March 14 – The board will meet at 6 p.m. to narrow the applicants to finalists.

Thursday, March 17 – The board will provide an update on the process during its regular meeting.

Monday, March 21 – At a 5:30 p.m. community forum at Manual High School, the board will introduce finalists and take community feedback.

Thursday, April 7 – A special board meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. for finalist interviews.

Tuesday, April 12 – The board will hold a special meeting at 4:30 p.m. to take a final vote and announce the new board member.

Here’s a link to the application.

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To see the four-part Rocky Mountain PBS documentary series Standing in the Gap, which examines the struggles of Denver Public Schools with desegregation, click here.  

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