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Former superintendent reaches settlement with Douglas County schools

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — Attorneys for former Douglas County School District Superintendent Corey Wise said he has reached a settlement with the school district and four school board members.

Wise alleged in a civil rights complaint in April 2022 that the four DCSD school board members illegally fired him for his work on behalf of minority children and students with disabilities.

The complaint filed with the Colorado Civil Rights Division and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment alleged Wise was subjected to illegal discrimination and retaliation for supporting masks in the classroom in 2021 to protect students with disabilities from COVID-19 and for supporting the district’s equity policy.

Wise filed charges against DSCD and Douglas County Board of Education members Becky Myers, Michael Peterson, Christy Williams and Kaylee Winegar.

The Douglas County School District declined to issue a statement to 9NEWS on the settlement.

Wise’s attorneys said DCSD paid Wise $270,733.61 owed to him for the remainder of his superintendent contract and also paid him $562,000 to resolve all of Wise’s claims stemming from his unlawful termination.

In total, Douglas County School District paid Wise $832,733.61, according to his attorneys.

Wise’s attorneys said all of the settlement money paid to him was through the Douglas County School Board’s insurance policies, and no funds were diverted from county schools or students.

Two of the individual board members named in the lawsuit issued statements after the settlement was announced.

Peterson wrote:

“As one Director, I voted to terminate the former superintendent due to a lack of competency – period. He was paid out in full in accordance with his contract. In response to threatened civil rights litigation, the school district’s insurance provider agreed to settle with him. Per the settlement agreement, the former superintendent has agreed this is not an admission of liability on the part of the school district. 

“I will not allow this matter to distract me from focusing on our students and securing more competitive pay for our teachers and staff.”

Williams wrote:

“Speaking as one Director, I voted to terminate the former superintendent over a year ago because I felt he was unable to meet the requirements of an efficient and effective leader.

“After the former superintendent threatened litigation against the school district, the district’s insurance carrier agreed to a resolution including no admission of liability.

“I’m thankful we can finally move forward and put the focus back on our students and staff.”

Wise was fired from DCSD in February 2022 during a contentious board meeting in which Wise forced board members to state their case for his firing in a public session and they were largely unable to do so. Wise’s firing after 25 years with DCSD prompted an outpouring of support from educators around the state.

After being fired by DCSD, Wise was hired by Jeffco Public Schools in February 2022 as an interim community superintendent.

Wise was later hired by Cherry Creek Schools in April 2022 as assistant superintendent of educational operations for the 2022-23 school year.

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