DougCo schools equity meeting, not business as usual

Suzie Glassman

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United American Defense Force members sit together at the DougCo Equity Advisory Council Meeting.Photo byPhoto by NewsBreak Denver

By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) Douglas County school district's Equity Advisory Council (EAC) meeting Wednesday could've been just another boring meeting with members breaking into groups and brainstorming ideas. But the spectators changed the equation.

Several members of the United American Defense Force (UADF), identified by a patch on one member's shirt and the presence of John "Tig" Tiegen, leader of FEC United's militia division, sat together at a table in an area designated for the public.

Among the group, a man wearing a "F— Antifa" shirt with the words "Lions not Sheep," a popular conservative stance that gained popularity during the pandemic, implying those who followed strict health guidance were followers or sheep.

When asked why UADF came to the meeting, Tiegen said, ​​"Probably because they also live there and have kids that go to school there. Is that a problem, are we not allowed to support each other or is that just a liberal thing?"

It's unclear whether members of UADF live in Douglas County and have kids in the district. But, FEC United, which UADF operates under, posted a call to action in its education pillar Facebook group calling for members to attend and provide feedback to the committee.

Separated from and unable to hear the EAC discussion, audience members, including Tiegen, Brandi Bradley, Colorado House District 39 Representative, FAIR Chapter Leaders Matt Cassady and Allison Jones, pro-equity supporters, and several members of the press talked amongst themselves.

The discussion was mostly civil, except when Lucas Johnson yelled at a Colorado Community Media photographer for taking his picture and told journalist McKenna Harford to “shut her trap.” Two spectators wearing pro-LGBTQ shirts sat in the back.

Committee members accomplish their work

The committee's objective was to discuss ways to effectively recruit, hire and retain teachers in the district.

Given an ongoing national teacher shortage and DougCo teachers' average salary of $18,000 less than nearby Cherry Creek, the task couldn't be more urgent.

Danelle Hiatt, deputy superintendent, stressed the urgency of streamlining the committee’s ideas in January to give to superintendent Erin Kane and her cabinet, so they could begin implementing the recommendations before primary hiring season begins.

While the committee members talked openly with each other, some said it was definitely not "business as usual." Attendance by committee members was low, and some, who prefer to remain anonymous, said they felt intimidated by the UADF's presence.

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