Teacher absences prompt 2 schools to cancel class

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WESTMINSTER, Colo. (AP) — Classes were canceled Friday at two high schools in the Jefferson County district because 59 teachers called in sick amid a contentious public debate over pay plans and curriculum.

District officials said they could not find enough substitutes to fill in at Standley Lake High School in Westminster and Conifer High School in Conifer.

The school board is considering a pay plan that would deny raises to teachers rated ineffective or partially effective if they are not on probationary contracts.

An outside reviewer said in August the district's teacher evaluation system was flawed and should not be used as a basis for setting pay, but the board rejected the report.

The Jefferson County Education Association, a teachers group, has been critical of the board. The association said 180 members took a unanimous no-confidence vote on school board president Ken Witt on Sept. 10.

The association said it did not organize Friday's wave of teacher absences but said it understands the teachers' frustrations.

The board is also considering establishing a panel to review the way advanced placement classes in U.S. history would be taught under the Common Core State Standards.

The panel would consider whether the curriculum promotes citizenship, patriotism and the free enterprise system, and whether it discourages civil disorder and disregard for the law.

The district's Parent-Teacher Association board passed a resolution Thursday denouncing the curriculum review.

PTA President Michele Patterson said the school board was moving into "dangerous territory" and suggested the review might be censorship.

The Denver Post reported (http://tinyurl.com/lh9s7sc) that some students gathered outside the schools Friday holding signs supporting the teachers.

"We think they should get paid more," said Evan Blaskowski, a senior who was picketing with about 20 others near Conifer High School.

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