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Three Adams 14 mothers express their frustration over University Prep denial

Editor’s note: Susanna Pasillas, Wendy Hernandez, and Erica Carrillo were among a group of parents working to bring a University Prep charter elementary school to the Adams 14 School District in Commerce City. The Adams 14 school board, after approving a charter application last December, voted earlier this month to deny the charter’s contract, putting the school’s opening in doubt.

We are disappointed and frustrated by the Adams 14 school board’s recent decision, going back on its word to allow an excellent University Prep charter elementary school to open in the district. 

Parents and children are being denied a school that would serve them well, far better than anything the district itself has to offer.

This decision has nothing to do with what is best for the district’s children. It appears to be all about territory, or money, or control. The district already has an image problem because of its poor performance and loss of state accreditation. This only makes it worse.

The three of us send our children or grandchildren to a University Prep school in Denver. Based on our own past personal experiences as students in Adams 14, we did not want to put our own children through what we went through there. 

University Prep offers everything we want in a school for our kids. The way teachers interact with the students and care for them is what every parent wants. It is a unique interaction that cannot be explained but has to be witnessed. The teachers treat their students as if they were their own children. 

We worked with University Prep for many months planning this school and getting word out to the community. Everyone was excited about having such a strong school in Commerce City. University Prep was committed to providing excellent bilingual education and meeting the needs of its students.

This is exactly the kind of school Adams 14 needs. How is it possible the school board and the staff don’t understand this? Again, it raises the question in our minds: Are you wanting what is best for students? Or are you more interested in maintaining control?

Maybe it would have helped if any board member or staff had bothered to visit a University Prep school. But they never did that, as far as we know. If they had bothered to talk to parents about their experiences at University Prep, they might have learned something that would have changed their minds. 

Apparently they did not want to change their minds. There is a very clear anti-charter school bias on this board and in the district administration. 

When board members voted to reject the contract, they said nothing about why. They promised to provide an explanation in a resolution. We’re still waiting, even though we don’t expect anything they say to provide a real reason.

After all, between the time the board approved the charter application last December and the vote to reject the contract, every question asked was answered by UPrep. Every concern was addressed.

The way we are feeling after this experience, Adams 14 will never have our children in its schools.

We are not giving up hope for a University Prep school. We hope that University Prep will appeal this decision and that the State Board of Education will overturn the contract denial and that Commerce City will have the benefit of a high-performing elementary school beginning next fall. 

Our children deserve no less.