Strategic Plan and DEI Focus

The Superintendent’s August 27, 2021 newsletter proudly announces that the district’s core values and mission have been updated and the announcment of a Strategic Plan that will equalize equity and “Unpack Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Audit and use the data to inform decisions.”

...The Think Tank updated the Current State Report with a COVID Epilogue and identified natural intersections with the diversity, equity and inclusion work happening in the district.

The Task Force also added the final report to their web page, which resembles what was described in the What Is DEI? page when this initiative was announced last year.

Two recommendations in the report are to hire a DEI Director and appoint liaisons in each school:

Academy District 20 establishes a Director of Equity and Diversity position to hold the district accountable to a set of district-wide policies.
Each school will have one designated DEI liaison to work with and be supported by the district Director of Equity and Diversity (per district recommendation #7), to coordinate DEI efforts at that school and address equity issues as needed.

The district’s “data” is dubious and misrepresented. Predictably, it’s selected and presented for the narrative. Some former members of the DEI task force affirmed this in the May 20th board meeting, though none of their comments are featured on the task force’s final report. According to the “data” in the report, the Task Force doesn’t even hold themselves to their own standards.

Task Force Data Task Force Composition

What is this graph supposed to demonstrate? The caption in the report says to “use caution” when viewing two populations due to lower populations.

It also appears the district is now using the new gender-neutral word ‘Latinx’ in official publications.


To be fair, not all of the recommendations are absurd. In fact, many are generally and historically agreeable even without a DEI initiative.

 View The Final Report from the Task Force.

There was a board meeting on August 19th, though the DEI effort wasn’t specifically discussed.

This woke agenda continues to advance without school board questioning or checks on the administration, without the consent or full awareness of the district community while concealed under trite and vague statements. Tom Gregory has embarked on a social transformation in our community as if they have a mandate or consensual authority.

There are two vacant school board seats this year. Karin Reynolds and Doug Lundberg are not seeking re-election.

Opposition Speaks Out

May 20th Board Meeting

The May 20, 2021, Academy District 20 School Board meeting  featured a number of comments in opposition to the district’s DEI initiative, including some members of the DEI Task Force speaking about their experience on it.

The DEI Task Force had their own presentation , including their recommendations  to the district. A few of the recommendations were generally agreeable, such as increased transportation options, mentoring programs, and a Career Technical Education (CTE) program - these are efforts long advocated for outside of a DEI program.

CEI, the group the district’s paid to oversee the launch of this effort, also presented  and answered questions.

June 3rd Board Meeting

The June 3, 2021, Academy District 20 School Board meeting  featured more commentary objecting to the district’s adoption of a DEI program with one speaker, a teacher, expressing support for the effort. Apparently, even though the district has a long-established and documented anti-discrimination policy , it must be rewritten and duplicated to satisfy the advocates. Existing district policy already clearly prohibits bullying and discrimination of any kind.

One board member reported concerns with two of the district’s schools’  relationship with The Gemini Group .

The school district should immediately cease all so-called "Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion" efforts. This is clearly a waste of time, money, and is only creating a divide where it shouldn't exist. Existing district policies and programs already address many of the concerns of the DEI Task Force and should be enforced where appropriate. The agreeable recommendations don't require the implementation of a DEI program.

Controversy and Task Force

Confederate Flag Controversy and a DEI Opportunity

There was apparently concern over a Confederate flag displayed as part of a lesson on American History that a substitute teacher took so much issue with that a petition was created that local news and even national news reported on .

Our district Superintendent, Tom Gregory, responded to the incident with an e-mail. It seems that the flag’s use was compliant with district policy, though they hinted at what is to come with this new DEI Task Force:

Many may be aware of the CHANGE.ORG petition created to ban the confederate flag from our schools. In fact, you may have questions or concerns about this situation.

Let me begin by reinforcing that Academy District 20 (ASD20) is committed to ensuring all students and staff feel safe, supported, and welcome in our school communities. We have had time to understand the situation that led to the petition and we own and acknowledge the impact.

Immediately, when learning of this petition, we began looking into this situation to understand its full context. We wanted to understand, “why?” “Why was a confederate flag used?” “Was there instructional value and educational purpose?”

We learned the flag was displayed as part of an 8th grade American History from Revolution to Reconstruction course. Numerous flags were displayed as the class learned about periods in American history. At the close of the unit, the class removed the flags and examined each flag’s historical context. Specific to the Confederate Flag, the class also discussed what the battle flag signified and how today, in 2021, the flag is viewed as a symbol of hate. The flag, along with others, are no longer on display as the unit of study has concluded.

We believe our classrooms are spaces for safe, supported dialogue around historical and current events. We are grateful for the open conversations with all involved. These conversations will continue, and we will engage in further learning to push our district forward to make sure all in our school communities feel safe and supported.

Academy District 20 does have policies about flag displays, selection of instructional materials, and teaching controversial issues. It does not appear district policies were violated. However, as we continue to move forward with our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work, all district policies will be evaluated.

It is important to note earlier this year the district formed a DEI Task Force to conduct an equity audit of our school district. This situation highlights the need for such a Task Force, and its important work.

Be well and be safe,

Tom Gregory
Academy District 20

(emphasis ours)

It’s not clear how this highlights the need for this Task Force - it’s stated rhetorically. It’s also not clear what DEI has to do with this but confirms our concern that this group will evaluate and influence curriculum.

What criteria will the DEI Task Force use to evaluate American History or any other topic they’re involved in? What will that criteria be five years from now? If a Confederate battle flag is deemed too inappropriate in the context of an American History lesson, it’s going to be difficult instructing other periods of world history and presenting examples of the symbols used. How does this help prepare our children for the world?

Refer to the May 7, 2021 newsletter  that followed, where this topic was also mentioned without the details of the DEI Task Force prospective involvement.

Task Force Updates

The district’s new DEI Task Force  has met several times and will conclude their audit on May 11.

On their site , you can view their previous meeting documents.

Some of the members of the Task Force are members of a local activist group that Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Peak  met with last year.

What will the School Board do?

So far, the School Board hasn’t said much on the topic, outside of some generic supportive comments and a few superficial questions.

School Board director Heather Cloninger is also a member of the same local activist group that Dr. David Peak met with whose members have spoken at previous board meetings.

Until the Task Force presents their audit results and recommendations, we can assume it will stay this way.

Building a Task Force

Moving from Audit to Action

The DEI work at Academy 20 continues.

An update on the district’s DEI initiative was presented at the January 21 Board Meeting  by Dr. David Peak  and Colorado Education Initiative , the group awarded the contract to help launch this initiative.

The members of the committee were announced and some plans for the implementation were discussed.

The audit is ongoing from now through Spring and will be presented to the board in May/June. A task force is already being developed to take action after the audit and recommendations from CEI.

 View the presentation (PDF) 

 View the presentation video (YouTube @ 2:27) 

Selection Committee and Board Meeting

The district announced that the DEI Consultant Selection Committee has been chosen  in their October 2nd, 2020 newsletter 

It is a diverse committee ranging in age and representing many other demographics. There are educators, working professionals, stay-at-home caregivers and members of our military community. I am confident it represents the many viewpoints of our district.

A public comment supportive of the DEI program was recently made at the October 1st Board of Education meeting  and the September 17th meeting .

We reaffirm our belief that all students should be treated as individuals and that DEI programs are antithetical to that. We object to the idea that DEI programs are necessary to address the problems the district faces or to prepare students to be compassionate and empathetic members of society.

 Refer to examples of DEI programs and decide for yourself.