Eaglecrest and the 2021 CCSD Board Election

Voters get the fate of deciding the future of the Cherry Creek School District.

It’s once again fall, and the annual election here in Colorado is right around the corner. In an odd-numbered year such as 2021, not much is on the ballot, but what is on there counts for us students, staff, and the community as a whole. The Cherry Creek School District Board is up for reelection this year, and this includes new candidates and incumbents from each of the 5 areas the School District has been organized in. 

But what exactly is at stake for this election? And why do we here at Eaglecrest need to worry about the CCSD Board?

The Cherry Creek School District Board, elected by the public, serves to create the policies and regulations for the whole district as well as appoint the superintendent. Meetings are held on every second Monday of the month. The location varies on a meeting basis and are found across the district. The previous meeting was held at the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus on October 11th, and the next meeting will be held at Falcon Creek Middle School on November 8th

The map of all of the zoned area of the Cherry Creek School District and their corresponding districts. (Cherry Creek School District)

Through these meetings, members of the public have the chance to voice their concerns and listen in on new and continuing plans in the district, including Eaglecrest and its surrounding area. Students, staff, parents and residents of the area have the privilege of being able to view these meetings. Regulations along with meeting schedules are available on the district’s website. 

This year, Districts D and E are up for reelection. District D includes Eaglecrest and the majority of its feeder schools. Some Eaglecrest students may live in District C, which is not up for reelection this year. District D also includes Cherokee Trail High School and most of their feeder schools as well. Voters from all over the zoned area for Cherry Creek Schools will be able to vote in this election, whether they live in these board districts or not. 

There are three candidates running for the seat as the Director of District D this election. All these candidates are listed as nonpartisan and are not affiliated with any political parties for this election. 

The incumbent for this election is Kelly Bates, the current director for this district, as well as the Vice President of the Board of Education. She has been director of District D since the fall of 2017 and has been working with multiple schools in Cherry Creek since the early 2000s. Bates has done work with Creekside Elementary, Liberty Middle School, and Cherokee Trail High School before her duration on the board. 

Flyer Campaign ad for Kelly Bates for the Cherry Creek School District Board. (Edmond Kunath)

Bates has received endorsements from the current President of the Board of Education and Director of District E, Karen Fisher, as well as two former superintendents of Cherry Creek Schools. 

“She has proven herself as an advocate for all kids,” former Superintendent Scott Siegfried said. “I can say without hesitation she is perfect for the role.

The contestants to the position of director are Schumé Navarro and Jennifer Gibbons. Jennifer Gibbons is currently a doctor of audiology and has been living within the district for the past 15 years. She is also the founder of Heritage Heights Academy, a K-8 Charter School that is affiliated with the Cherry Creek School District, and serves as President on the Board of Directors for the charter school.  “I am concerned about what has been happening in our District with Board Leadership and think that we need a stronger voice that better represents kids and the community,” Gibbons said on her campaign website.

Lastly, there is Schumé Navarro. Navarro does not have a specific background in education; however, she is the only one to have been a student in the Cherry Creek School District, graduating from Cherry Creek High School in 2004. She is also the owner of Peacock Vanity, a bridal-focused business since 2010. Navarro advocates for transparency of the district and, “to bring parent voice back into schools,” according to her campaign website. 

Navarro has also had controversy with the Cherry Creek School District that has been seen throughout the state. Over the past few months, six candidate forums have been held at every high school in the school district as candidates were asked questions. Ms. Navarro was not allowed to attend in person at first for the meetings due to masks: Aa heated topic across the country as COVID still appears in our lives. In response, she sued the district in United States District Court with the claim that the district violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1992, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act, first implemented in 1957 and has been revised over the past half-century. Navarro alleges that, “a psychological disorder stemming from severe child abuse incidents that included suffocation,” and “a nasal deformity,” was incorporated in needing a mask exemption, according to court records from United States District Court. A signed statement from her Licensed Professional Counselor was given to the district as required by state law to submit a mask exemption.

The website for Jen Gibbons’ campaign website, detailing events, campaign vows, donations, and more. (Jen Gibbons for Cherry Creek School Board)
Navarro at the Cherry Creek Board of Education Candidate Forum at Cherokee Trail High School on October 7th, the last of six forums held at each high school in Cherry Creek Schools. (Cherry Creek School District)

Cherry Creek did not approve the request as it was not from a Licensed Professional Counselor. This does not fit the criteria as a Colorado licensed medical provider under state law and the district stated that Navarro could not attend the forums under regulations from the Tri-County Health Department. Ms. Navarro was eventually allowed to attend the forums virtually. The court eventually favored Navarro, in which she was permitted to attend the meetings without a mask, as long as she maintained a distance from the public in order to prevent the spread of COVID and was able to attend the final forum at CT in person.

A small election in scale to the magnitude of so many pressing issues going on in the United States can be seen as miniscule and insignificant. But this election happening right in our community has shown much more than just a simple election. Our daily lives here at Eaglecrest and the way we interact with education can be altered by this election, as well as athletics and activities. The fate of the candidates is up to voters on November 2nd this year. Leaving it up to the next director to determine the future for all Eaglecrest students, in the present and the future.