Who Is In Charge

Aspen schools chief new CDE deputy commissioner

Diana Sirko, Aspen school superintendent, will become deputy commissioner of education, the Aspen Daily News reported on its website Tuesday afternoon.

Colorado Department of Education

She replaces Ken Turner, who retired late last year. Turner was CDE’s point person on several major education initiatives, including implementation of the Colorado Achievement Plan for Kids. The first major milestone in that effort was passed last month when the State Board of Education approved new content standards in 13 subject areas.

CDE now is in the middle of developing a replacement system for the CSAP tests. The board has to make a decision on that by next December.

The department hasn’t issued any announcement. But, Daily News reporter Brent Gardner-Smith said CDE spokesman Mark Stevens confirmed the appointment. The Aspen district issued a news release announcing Sirko’s move.

Here’s the text of the Daily News story, used by permission:

Diana SirkoAspen School District Superintendent Dr. Diana Sirko is resigning her position in Aspen as of June 4 to take a position as deputy commissioner of education for the state, according to a press release from the school district.

In her new position, Sirko will be in charge of curriculum and instruction for the state and will be one of two deputy commissioners at the Colorado Department of Education.

“It’s very exciting for me as a life-long member of Colorado’s educational system, to try to have an impact at the state level; to do what’s best for all kids across the entire state,” said Sirko in a prepared statement.

Sirko has served on numerous educational committees, worked on curriculum and instructional programs statewide and has served on a variety of professional boards. Sirko has led the Aspen district and its elementary, middle school and high school since 2003. She told the Aspen board of education last fall that she was likely to retire from her position at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

“I have loved my seven years in the Aspen School District. It has been a true pleasure to work with our students, staff, and community,” Sirko said in the statement. “I’m glad my husband will continue to coach at Aspen High School so I will still have the opportunity to be part of this great school district.”

Sirko’s husband, Mike Sirko, is the coach of the high school football team.

The Aspen board of education will begin a new superintendent search immediately.

“Filling Diana’s shoes will be no small task, but we’re confident the district has some exciting opportunities ahead,” said Charla Belinski, president of the board, in the statement. “The district’s staff and administrators are a cohesive and skilled team, and their professionalism leaves no doubt that we will remain in good hands throughout the transition.”

Sirko is a native Coloradan and a graduate of the Denver Public Schools, and she received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Colorado public universities. Her career as an educator in Colorado has spanned 35 years.

Sirko and her husband intend to remain in the Roaring Fork River valley while commuting to her offices at CDE in Denver.

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.