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Loveland - August 14, 2014

It was an unusually warm winter Friday afternoon in Loveland on March 14, clear blue skies, a slight
breeze and temperatures climbing into the low 60's by early afternoon.  A group of teachers from
Ferguson High School in Loveland, along with a guidance counselor, enjoyed drinks together at a local
bar as they reportedly had been doing regularly throughout the school year.  

Thompson School District head of K-12 curriculum, Margaret Crespo, came through the doors sometime
after 1:30 p.m., according to our source, but not to join the group in their ritual Friday drinks but for
another reason.  Trailing Crespo was a nervous HR (Human Resource) professional there to document
the encounter.

Friday March 14, was a regularly scheduled school day for the Thompson School District.   Presumably,
regular classes were in session so the district was receiving state per pupil funding for a normal day of
instruction.  In fact, LovelandPolitics has learned, many if not all of Ferguson High School's small student
body had already been dismissed for the day while their teachers enjoyed drinks at their local watering

Surprisingly, the encounter did not result in disciplinary actions (that we have been able to discover at
least) nor any briefing to the Thompson Board of Education as a follow-up in their closed session
meetings according to school board minutes.  Crespo's visit, we are told, became more of a warning and
no record of the event reported to the State Board of Education either which is apparently not aware of
Ferguson High School's ad-hoc, good weather holiday scheduling practice.  Instead of confrontation,
Crespo is reported to have announced whose names had been reported to Superintendent Stan Scheer's
office by an angry parent while informing the others they were free to leave.  According to one
confidential source, the only teachers interviewed by Crespo were those already reported to the district
so no new information gathered as a result of her surprise visit.

The bar staff could not confirm the number of teachers present that day.  Ferguson High School website
reports a total licensed teaching staff of approximately 17 (
see staff listing).  The allegation is a majority
of the high school's teaching staff had dismissed students early that day and met later for a drink at the

LovelandPolitics has been researching this story for the past four months but given the close relationship
between the Thompson Education Association and senior Thompson R2-J administration staff, we were
unable to get confirmation of the events described above.  In fact, we were informed by one insider that
the Thompson Education Association (teacher's union) has conducted an investigation of its own into one
Ferguson teaching staff member who brought forward the complaint regarding colleagues taking leaving
in the middle of the day and releasing students early from classes.  

Ferguson High School

Originally named the Washington Alternative High School until 1981, Ferguson is currently housed in a
former Lutheran Church and school at 1101 Hilltop Drive in Loveland.  Boasting to be one of the oldest
"alternative" high schools in the state, Ferguson enrollment averages about 135 students a year so with a
licensed teaching staff of approximately 17 it can boast of having some of the smallest class sizes in the
school district.  This results in a much higher cost, per pupil, than most any other school within the
district.  Local foundations like McKee Medical supplement public funding for the alternative high school
with annual donations.

The school was later named after its creator, a former Loveland High School principal, who wanted the
district to offer an alternative program for students either unwilling or unable to succeed in a more
traditional high school setting.  Teachers are popular with students at Ferguson who, according to one
recent graduate, are frequently allowed to break district policies normally enforced in traditional high
schools.  One example is students are allowed to smoke on school grounds during class time which is a
violation of district policy.

A History of Academic Fraud

According to one source, the bigger problem facing Ferguson High School is the pervasive culture of
passing students who fail to attend classes or even turn-in assignments.   LovelandPolitics has been
informed a number of recent graduates failed to complete even the most rudimentary assignments but
their names were still forwarded to the district as having completed the minimum requirements to
graduate from high school.  In one case, a student who literally dropped-out earlier in the year was
invited back for the last two weeks of class and allowed to graduate with a high school diploma.

Ferguson uses an alternative education program called S.O.A.R. (Students on an Alternative Route) that
advertises flexible education experiences where students finish work according to their own schedule
and not any fixed deadline.  The one common goal of all students in S.O.A.R. is to receive a high school
diploma.  Unfortunately, the lack of structure allows the instructors greater discretion in determining
grades and performance that is more open to abuse than in a traditional setting.

Last year, Ferguson High School teacher and six year veteran of their S.O.A.R. program, Gawain Jay
Roberts, admitted he had sex with one 17 year-old Ferguson student in exchange for giving her better
grades.  Like the other instructors at Ferguson, the 36 year-old Roberts taught a very small number of
students who relied heavily on his subjective judgement for their grades and ability to graduate.  At more
traditional high schools, one teacher has less control and certainly less discretion in determining whether
a single student can graduate given the number of classes they take and more structured curriculum
where classmates will more easily notice another out of the loop student passing with straight A's while
not attending class.

Following his arrest and guilty plea, Roberts who was Welsh, was deported back to the United Kingdom in
leiu of serving a criminal sentence in the United States.  
read story in The Coloradoan.

While many former students rave about their great experiences at Ferguson High School, one told
LovelandPolitics he felt it was sort of "creepy" how his 40 something teacher was trying to high-five him
in the hallway and become his best friend.  He complained it violated his "personal bubble" and was
"kinda creepy having this old dude pretend he was my BFF."
Ferguson HS Teachers Allegedly Drinking
In Bar Together After Dismissing Classes
Ferguson High School in Loveland, Colorado
      Retreading A Reporter-Herald Editorial

On August 6, 2014 the minority of three obstructionist
school board members,
Denise Montagu, Lori
Hvizda-Ward and Pam Howard
saw their opening.

Only two of their mostly recently elected colleagues
arrived on-time for the meeting so the three refused to
accept the routine agenda below.  As a result, the
board meeting ended and the staff and community
who arrived sent home due to a partisan parliamentary

The three antagonists did this to protest to School
Board President Bob Kerrigan refusing to change the
meeting agenda by adding an item which was not
properly noticed (as required by law) to the public for
discussion at the special meeting.

The Thompson Board of Education holds just one
"statutory" meeting per month and special meetings
frequently referred to as "study sessions" other times
during the month.  This practice has a thirty year
history in the district which they began challenging only
following the last election.

Refusing to even discuss routine matters as a type of
political black-mail is a new tactic for the board,
however.  The Loveland Reporter-Herald has railed
against Republicans in Congress for arguably similar
actions but this time the newspaper defended the
tactic as the shoe is now on the left and not right foot.

Instead of writing an editorial of our own on the topic
in rebuttal, we thought our readers could benefit from
a retreaded Loveland Reporter-Herald editorial on
Congress slightly edited to match the school board

Read our version of their editorial
(allowed as the satire exception under copyright law)

Below are the agenda items Board of Education
members Denise Montagu, Lori Hvizda-Ward and
Pam Howard refused to allow discussion on -

MOU with FRCC for 2014-2015 Campus and
HS Select

MOU with FRCC for 2014-2015 Ascent

Service Agreement with OCR for Athletic
Trainers – MVHS addition

Illuminate Assessment Software 10 Minutes

School Bus purchase >$50k

Stipend Committee/Pay for performance