A research firm is conducting a survey of some Douglas County residents about school district issues that include potential ballot questions, but district officials say they know little about it.
“It’s not something that’s being paid for by the district or board,” Douglas County School District’s legal counsel Rob Ross said.
Ross said he had heard about the survey through posts on school-related Facebook pages.
Douglas County parent Anne Marie Lemieux, who took the survey Aug. 5, said many of the questions focused on the teachers’ union, the Douglas County Federation.
“They asked, ‘Am I happy with the direction of the board? Am I supportive of collective bargaining for teachers? Would I be supportive of putting something on a ballot about getting rid of teachers’ unions?’
“The way the questions were worded, ‘Would you support trying to get rid of the teachers’ union in Douglas County?,’ were in my opinion, it was very anti-union slanted.”
The DCF’s collective bargaining agreement with the district expired June 30 after more than 100 hours of unsuccessful negotiation. The union since filed a so-far-unanswered request for intervention with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
The Douglas County School Board voted July 26 to save space on the November ballot for a potential question. It has not offered any details about the question, though board president John Carson said it would focus on some aspect of education reform and would likely not be a request for funding. Carson said the board will decide whether to put a question on the ballot this month.
BR Interviewing confirmed it is conducting a survey related to Douglas County Schools, but a representative there provided no additional information, saying, “Our clients hire us to be confidential.” BR Interviewing is a New Jersey-based firm employed by government agencies, corporations, religious organizations, advertising agencies and other entities to collect data for survey research purposes, according to its website.
Highlands Ranch resident Alan Hurley, whose wife is a Douglas County elementary school teacher, said he also got a call from BR Interviewing but didn’t take the survey.
“The interviewer abruptly hung up on me when I responded to his third question,” Hurley said. “He asked if anyone in the household was employed by the district and I said my wife was. At that point he hung up on me as I tried to ask why that would disqualify me.”
Ross said the board legally could opt to put a question on the ballot without input from the community.
“But I don’t think that’s going to be the case,” he said. “I’d be watching the agenda to see if they’re going to put it on for August.”
A grassroots organization called Strong Schools Coalition has asked the board to discuss the potential question, and is circulating a petition to garner support for their request.