PROMO 64J1 Education - Academics School Book Statue Bronze - flickrcc - Alan Levine - public domain

Douglas County schools president to resign but is poised to participate in crucial vote

© flickrcc - Alan Levine
Suzie Glassman

(Colorado Newsline) Douglas County school board president Mike Peterson told the current board members in an email last week that he plans to step down from his position “due to a combination of professional and private concerns.”

Colorado Newsline obtained a copy of the Nov. 20 email from Peterson to the board after outgoing board member David Ray asked Peterson about rumors that he had sold his house and was planning to move.

According to city records, Peterson closed the sale of his Larkspur home earlier this month. Colorado law states that when a director becomes a nonresident of the school district or director district, the seat is immediately considered vacant. 

Ray expressed concern that unless Peterson had another way of proving he still lives in the district, board members would have to declare his seat vacant at their next meeting on Nov. 30. However, Peterson told the board he has a lease for a local rental property and plans to remain on the board until a later date, which he will announce.

“I will submit an official letter with a specific date of resignation at a later time,” wrote Peterson. “At this point, I hope to assist with a smooth transition of the board as my youngest daughter finishes the semester, and my work obligations increase significantly in the new year.” 

Douglas County School Board President Mike Peterson (Douglas County School District)


When contacted by Newsline, Peterson said he plans to provide details about his resignation at a board meeting this week and that he provided proof of his lease agreement in the county to the school board assistant secretary. He declined to offer further comment.

Voters in Colorado’s third-largest school district, Douglas County, sent a clear message to the school board when it elected three candidates, Susan Meek, Brad Geiger and Valerie Thompson, who opposed the conservative candidates’ stance on issues like giving parents more control over the curriculum and allowing teachers and staff not to use a student’s preferred pronouns. 

Peterson’s decision to remain on the board until after Meek, Geiger and Thompson are sworn in and next year’s board officers are chosen during a meeting Thursday has significant consequences for the district. Four conservative members, including Peterson, hold the majority on the seven-member board and can out-vote the three more liberal members on issues where they disagree.

When board members resign, the remaining members have 60 days to appoint their replacement. In the case of a tie vote, the president chooses the winner. If Peterson chooses a conservative member to replace him as president, the board majority won’t change.

However, some members of the current board believe Peterson should recuse himself from the process since he will no longer have a vested interest in the ongoing workings of the district.

“I strongly believe that he should abstain from voting given that he has already announced his plans to resign prior to the end of December,” Ray said. “Officers are selected to serve their fellow Board members for the next two years. Since he will no longer be a member of the Board, it makes no sense that he would participate in selecting these individuals.

Geiger said the Nov. 7 election was “a clear rejection of the actions of the current board leadership and a demand that the board move past partisan differences,” and added, “This Thursday, the public will be watching to see if the sitting board members heard the voters. Director Peterson has the legal right to participate in the election of a new board president and has indicated he will do so despite his intent to resign. It’s my hope that in the election of a board president and Peterson’s replacement, all directors will find a way to avoid the divisions of the last two years.”

When asked about Peterson’s failure to disclose his plans even after selling his home, Meek, who won her bid for reelection with 53% of the vote, said, “Given the scrutiny our board has been under based on having lost an open meetings lawsuit, the board needs to lean into being transparent and communicating with the public. 

Meek continued, “I’m looking forward to moving forward with a newly constituted board and working toward restoring trust in our community. The sooner we can get started on that path, the better for our students and our community.”

Mike Peterson

Peterson was elected to the Douglas County school board with three other conservative candidates — Christy Williams, Becky Myers and Kaylee Winegar — who ran as a slate in 2021. The election drew national attention as the four received large donations from wealthy individuals and groups like the 1776 Project PAC, which opposed anti-racist education. 

Within weeks of taking office, Peterson, Williams, Myers and Winegar held a series of illegal meetings to discuss firing then-superintendent Corey Wise, which they later did, sparking a large protest that included many district teachers, staff and family. 

Wise’s firing sparked a lawsuit from Wise that ended in a settlement and payout that came close to $1 million dollars. The four board members also cost the district more than $100,000 when a judge ruled the district had to cover Colorado House Rep. Robert Marshall’s attorneys fees and court costs for an open meetings violation lawsuit he filed and won.

During his two years as board president, Peterson removed the district’s mandatory masking policy and directed Wise’s replacement, Erin Kane, to research revisions to the district’s equity policy. Those revisions, which left the current policy mostly intact, went into effect earlier this year.

Peterson also championed a recent voter-approved property tax increase to raise salaries for all district employees. 

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.