A state review panel (SRP) recommended closing Adams City High School and reorganizing the Adams 14 School District in a 32-page report released Tuesday. The panel cited the district's culture, along with declining enrollment and the number of current students choosing to not attend Adams 14 as evidence of the need for "drastic change." "Among the gravest concerns are the reported culture of fear and retaliation, the lack of sound financial and human resource practices, and the overall limited improvement in student achievement and growth over many years," the report states. The panel considered reorganizing the district's leadership while leaving current leaders in their positions, according to the report. However, the group found a "need for drastic change in practices at the district level." "A reorganization of district leadership would address these concerns more directly," the report affirms. The panel determined that closing Adams City High School would be the "best option." "The closure of Adams City High School (ACHS) is likely the best option, allowing students to attend surrounding high schools (some of which are geographically close) that are performing at higher levels than ACHS and, if given an option, may be a preference for students," the report details. "The closure of ACHS is likely to allow ACHS students an opportunity to access a better education at another high school. At the same time, it would allow Adams 14 to place intentional focus on leading turnaround work at the elementary school and middle school levels. "The panel did discuss closing more than one school, but decided against it due to concerns, according to the report. Adams 14 issued a four-page response to the panel through attorney Joseph A. Salazar with Salazar Law, LLC. Salazar refuted the panel's judgments, saying the criticisms of the district's leadership falls on MGT Consulting, which exited the district last month after more than two years. "Based on the well-documented evidence, reasonable people can only conclude that criticisms of the “district’s leadership” and other failures squarely fall on MGT’s disastrous management of the District since June 15, 2019,"Salazar said. Salazer said the state panel did not do its job and failed to complete a full review of documentation, including emails from MGT." In sum, SRP is mandated by its own procedures to be objective, and to engage in a full review of relevant documents," Salazar said. "It is painfully obvious SRP fails to be objective, and it has not conducted a full review of documentation. We encourage SRP to seriously reconsider its report, and incorporate the recommended changes. "The Colorado State Board of Education will hold a hearing in April to review the report and discuss possible action.
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