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DPS board in disarray

The new Denver Board of Education got off to an extremely rocky start Monday night with some legal maneuvering that both highlight and will exacerbate differences among board members.

The divisions threaten to turn the board's attentions inward, away from the district's persistent low achievement problems, and to tarnish DPS' reputation as a district that was working toward reform, even if those reforms haven't yielded much in the way of tangible improvement.

Newly elected board member Andrea Merida arrived at the meeting to announce that she'd been sworn in a few hours earlier by a judge and was going to immediately take the seat of outgoing member Michelle Moss, who represented the same district and had supported Merida during the election campaign.

Traditionally, new board members are sworn in together at the first meeting after the November election, and after the old board has voted on any business at hand. Merida said, in effect, that she should have a vote on a controversial issue that was on Monday's agenda - the reorganization or closure of a handful of schools. The most heat has been generated over the reorganization of Lake Middle School in northwest Denver. Moss supported the Lake reform plan; Merida didn't.

The Lake debate is something of a symbol for larger debates within DPS over use of charter schools and other reforms and over the appropriate role of community and interest group wishes in district decisions.

Despite Merida's ploy, the plans passed on a 4-3 vote. Given that, some observers have been left wondering if there isn't some further strategy by Merida and her board allies to somehow later overturn the Lake changes.

This whole situation is complicated - get the detailed story from Education News Colorado.