Another reorganization at DPS – here’s hoping this one has better results

OK – I am including the link to the actual chart because my technical skills are lacking –   But I am also listing the newest reorg personnel of what used to be OSRI – Office of School Reform and Innovation which used to be something else (which I can’t remember). Alyssa Whitehead-Bust is still the Chief and following this list/chart you will find her email explaining why and how this is better and why and how the results for children and employees will be better.  I do hope someone can find out how much these 50+ administrators are costing taxpayers. And as the year ends, let’s not forget to hold each and every one of them accountable for whatever “reform” we are on to now. Excuse the sarcasm, but it seems that so far adding more layers of administration has only had a negative effect on morale and education in DPS.  Chaos, churn.

Academic and Innovation Office Organizational Structure

1. Executive Director Innovation and Strategy (PeterPiccolo)
2. Executive Director Student Services John Simmons
3. Director Strategic Initiatives (Josh Drake)
4. Director Operations (Tom O’Keefe)
5. Director Special Education (Dianne Richardson)
6. Director.Social Emotional Learning (Eldridge Greer)
7. Director.Early Childhood Education (Cheryl Caldwell)
8. Director Gifted & Talented (Rebecca McKinney)
9 .Director Related & Support Services (John Liberatore)
10. Director ESEA Title Programs (Veronica Bradsby)
11. Executive Director
Academic Achievement of English Learners
Darlene LeDoux
12. Director Strategic Initiatives (Jorge Robles)
13. Director Leadership & Management (CJ Grace)
14. Director Quality Assurance (Elena Sodano)
15. Director Instructional Practices (Christine Muldoon)
Chief Academic and Innovation Officer
Alyssa Whitehead-Bust
16. Director of Formative Assessment and Data Driven Instruction
(Jessica Long)
17. Executive Director, Personalized Learning (Cheri Wrench)
18. Director, Academic Product Mgt. (Megan Marquez)
19. Director, Library Services (Vacant)
20.Director, Educational Technology (Kirk Anderson)
21. DirectorExtended Learning & Community Schools
(Katherine Plog-Martinez)
22. Director of Professional Personalized Learning
(Ben Wilkoff)
23. Director Competency Based Learning (Vacant)
24. Executive Director Portfolio Management (Vacant)
25.Executive Director Accountability, Research & Evaluation
Grant Guyer
26.Director of Assessment (Kristen Maxey-Moore)
27.Senior Program Manager of Strategic Planning(Jenny Mills)
28.Program Effectiveness Manager (Rob Jakubowski)
29.Accountability Manager (Maegan Daigler)
30.Reporting & Analysis Manager (Yu-Lu Hsiung )
31.Student Outcomes Manager (Karen Herbert)
32.Deputy Chief of Academics (Vacant)
33. Sr. Director,Imaginarium (Makisha Boothe)
34. Director Design & Prototype (Vacant)
35. Director Pilot to Scale (Laura Petty)
36.Director Ecosystem Redesign (Katherine Casey)
37.Sr. Director Organizational Excellence (Vacant)
38.Deputy Director Ops. & Performance Mgt. Jean DeLaMata
39.Communications Manager Mark Poshak
40.Executive Director Professional Learning (Devin Fletcher, Interim) (Vacant)
41.Director Peer Observers (Tonia Shook)
42.Director Peer Observers (Prudence Daniel)
43.Director Educator Development & Leadership(Theress Pidick)
44.Executive Director Curriculum and Instruction (Devin Fletcher, Interim) (Vacant)
45.Director of Math (Cathy Martin)
46.Director of Math Fellows Tim Johnson
47.Director of Arts and PE (Capucine Chapman)
48.Dir of Secondary Language and Literacy(Vacant)
49.Dir of Elementary Language and Literacy Vacant)
50. Director of Science,
51.Social Studies & World Languages (Susan Olezene)
52.Director Secondary School Supports (Colleen O’Brien)
53. Director Elementary School Supports (Stacey Paulson)
54.DirectorELA School Supports (Martha Loera-Olivas
55.Director, School Development (Jennifer Holladay)
56.Director Quality Assurance & Accountability (Maya Lagana)

Dear AIO colleagues.

As we enter the final months of the 2014-2015 school year, I write to you with gratitude for the opportunity to work with this Academic and Innovation Office team, full of talented and passionate people who bring their best to work every day on behalf of students. Thank you for your commitment to the youth of Denver. I have never been more optimistic about the future of our team and DPS, as I firmly believe we are on the cusp of becoming the first urban district in the nation to fulfill the promise that all students, regardless of their zip code or native language, can succeed. Fulfilling this promise will not be easy – it will require all of us to think and act boldly together – but I am confident our team will discover the best ways of serving educators, school leaders and students.

Since the fall of 2014, our team has been working in partnership with the Chief Schools Office (CSO) and Human Resources to develop an Academic Supports Strategic Plan. Motivated by the Denver Plan 2020 and the findings of the Council on Great City School’s report, this plan will serve as a guide for equipping educators and school leadership teams to ensure that schools receive the supports necessary to provide all students in DPS a highly personalized, standards-based learning experience that prepares them for success. We envision vital and lively classrooms throughout Denver in which students are challenged to think critically, creatively and deeply. The strategic plan lays out the clear goals, strategies, actions and outcomes to help us achieve that vision and reach the Denver Plan 2020 goals. We are in the final phase of developing the plan, which will be released in April.
We Listened!
As part of my transition into this role I created a 105-day listening tour to learn more about you and your work and how we can better support the work between teachers and students in the district. Throughout the strategic planning process, more structured feedback opportunities have been provided to over 600 people, including AIO and CSO colleagues, teachers and school leaders, and both local and national experts. I recently sent an update on the process, which you can read by clicking here . The feedback I heard was invaluable as it helped identify opportunities to grow as a team.
Organizational Changes
One of the key components that has emerged from this strategic planning is that our team structure limits our support to classrooms. This means that we will be realigning our team to better support our schools and networks to improve how students learn and how teachers teach. Combined with efforts to establish clearer decision-making and accountability and to leverage a distributed leadership model, I believe we are taking the necessary steps to best support our schools.
I want to highlight a few of the changes in the new structure:
A Deputy Chief of Academics will be hired to lead Curriculum and Instruction, Professional Learning, Personalized Learning and Data Driven Instruction. The Deputy will drive coherence across these bodies of work in support of implementing standards and providing better aligned support to schools. We will recruit for this position after spring break.
A new Professional Learning team will bring more coherence to our adult learning supports. This new team is responsible for cultivating the capacity of educators, school leaders and school leadership teams, particularly in the areas of standards-based instruction. A new Executive Director of Professional Learning will lead this team. We will recruit for this position after spring break.
While the essential functions of the Interdisciplinary team will continue, we will be integrating the work of this team into other teams where needed. The title “Interdisciplinary Learning” will be no longer be used as of this announcement. A new team, the Personalized Learning Team, with an Executive Director of Personalized Learning, will be launched to ensure central office has the capacity to support an increasing number of schools that are implementing personalized learning approaches. Arts and Physical Education staff will transition from Interdisciplinary Learning to the Curriculum and Instruction team for aligned academic supports.
An Organizational Excellence Team will be launched, which will support timely, data-driven decision-making, and continuous improvement and accountability processes across AIO. The team will also improve communication within our team and with external stakeholders, particularly in support of key components of the strategic plan such as standards implementation and personalized learning. Finally, the team will ensure human resource and financial management processes are executed with excellence across the AIO.
The work of the Office of School Supports will be integrated into the Professional Learning team and the Curriculum and Instruction team. The Office of School Supports will continue to work with schools through the remainder of this school year, but will be rolled into these teams on June 30.
The title of Office of School Reform and Innovation or OSRI will no longer be used as of this announcement. However, the work of OSRI will continue and receive greater focus from the two teams that previously comprised OSRI, the Portfolio Management Team and the Innovation team, which includes the imaginarium, DPS’ Innovation Lab.
We will be working with Susana’s CSO team to equip our network partners and structures to provide the best support for schools. Details on the network structure will be released in April.
Organizational Chart
Click here to view the new organizational chart, which details the AIO and its core leadership team. Please see your Executive Director for your team’s specific changes and organizational chart. While we do not anticipate additional changes to the Executive Director leadership structure, all team leaders are responsible for organizing and building the capacity of their teams. As we implement the strategic Plan this spring, Executive Directors and other team leaders will continue to assess the structure and makeup of their teams to ensure they are best positioned to deliver the highest quality supports to schools and educators.

Moving Forward
Organizational change naturally prompts questions. I want to be certain you receive answers to all your questions as soon as possible. There are three different options find more information:
Tomorrow morning I will be hosting a conference call for anyone who would like to participate. The dial-in information can be found at the bottom of this email.
For additional details on our new team structure, please view our FAQ by clicking here.
Executive Directors have been involved in the decision-making process and are fully up-to-speed on these changes so do not hesitate to reach out to them.

Helpful Information
AIO Organizational Change Resources
Organizational Chart

· Coffee Chat with Alyssa Whitehead-Bust
Friday, March 27
9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Dial-in Number: (712) 775-7031
Meeting ID: 197-040-823

Finally, a special thank you to the Executive Directors who have all embraced this opportunity to lead change, who spoke with candor to me and each other, and who thought deeply about the structure and health of our team.

Together we can, and will, ensure that Every Child Succeeds.

All the best,

Alyssa Whitehead-Bust
Chief Academic and Innovation Officer

When All Else Fails…Grab More Power

We all have been privy in recent years to the axiom “If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.” I am hoping the same will be true of my axiom, “If you repeat the TRUTH often enough, the truth will become self-evident.” So I shall keep on keeping on.


I am not going to repeat the indisputable data showing education “reform” is not working in Denver Public Schools. You have read about it here repeatedly, especially in the posts, “Blog Launch,”  “STOP,” and most recently, “You Can’t Even Know Half of the Truth.


But even with the constant drone of emails and main street media coverage about the success of education “reform,” Superintendent Tom Boasberg and his administration appear to be concerned that their power and relentless “success” messages are being challenged, and that they themselves could be held accountable for the failures of “reform.”  They must be feeling vulnerable, for they are expanding their power and silencing dissension.  The opportunities for public discussion and questioning of policies and practices are being greatly reduced.  How else can the following power plays be explained?


  • District SIAC (School Improvement and Accountability Committee) has been disbanded and reconstituted in the superintendent’s image as the District Accountability Committee. Twenty four members, all appointed by the superintendent with only three holdovers from the old committee, make up the new committee. The Park Hill Community Newspaper has an excellent description of the SIAC process and the results.  The message from the District is very clear:  Questions are not welcome, people not in lock step with the superintendent are not welcome.
  • Bond Oversight Committee has had two vacancies. This is the committee appointed to oversee that voter-approved bond money is being spent as promised. Three people applied, including me. (Please note, I was the Board of Ed representative to all the bond committees during my eight years on the board and even after retirement have continued to attend many of the meetings). The other two applicants had no prior knowledge or experience with DPS bond-related issues, yet were still selected.  Message: Questions are not welcome and anyone with historic information and/or perspective – when it differs from the superintendent’s – is not welcome or appreciated.
  • Board of Education elections are coming up in November 2015.  This power grab is not new and in fact has been going on for some years now, resulting in a 6-1, pro-failing “reform”  Board. The past two election cycles have seen spending of $250,000 – $300,000 for each “reform” candidate per race. This November the last community Board of Education member will leave due to term limits.  A 6-1 majority won’t be enough for this “reform” crowd. As one current “reform” Board Member said during the 2013 campaign, “I’d love to see a 7-0 majority…” That is not a majority.  That is totalitarianism where questions and policy challenges are discouraged or ignored and where little heed is given to the past. Elections matter, folks.


Those are just a few examples of the latest power grab by this administration. And even though I said I wouldn’t reiterate the facts, here are some that need reiterating after ten years of “reform”:


TCAP proficiencies:

  • Reading 54%,
  • Math 47%,
  • Writing 44%

Achievement Gaps:

  • Reading GAP INCREASED 7 percentage points in 10 years to 36%,
  • Math GAP INCREASED 20 percentage points in 10 years to 34%,
  • Writing GAP INCREASED 9 percentage points in 10 years to 36%


  • 65% of schools have over 70% minority students
  • 10% have over 70% non-minority
  • 75% of all DPS schools are segregated

ACT scores:                      18.4 (21 is considered college ready with no remediation needed)

Graduation Rate:              62.8%

Remediation Rate:           Last available percentage was hovering around 60%


My ask of you, the reader, is that you talk to your friends and family and give them the facts. Many Denver residents do not have kids in school, but that does not mean they should not know the truth. That does not mean they should vote without knowing the truth. “Reform” is failing DPS students, DPS employees, the city of Denver. Please help get the truth out. Silencing the opposition by a power grab should not be condoned, overlooked, or taken lightly.





The magnet International Baccalaureate (IB) program has been demagnetized, and after 25 years the internationally acclaimed GW IB the founder and co-ordinator of the program is retiring. The program will now not require an application. All incoming students can choose to take IB classes. One can only hope accommodations for unprepared students, many of whom seem to have been ignored after ten years of “reform,” do not result in a lowering of the rigorous IB standards. GW should not lose its hard won IB accreditation at the expense of unprepared students. Imagine Denver School of the Arts (DSA) having to take unprepared student artists!  Maybe that should be the next target of “reformers.”  Allow all who wish to attend DSA in.  After all that would certainly be more equitable, and “reform” is all about equity.



On October 21, 2014 a group of public education observors, spearheaded by the citizens’ oversight group A+ Denver, sent a letter to DPS asking for a revamping of the weights used in the School Performance Framework (SPF). The SPF is the measure used to evaluate schools and staff. The group wanted to hear back by the end of November, not an unreasonable request. To date the only response has been this mealy-mouthed explanation as to the status of the request by A+ Denver in its February 11, 2015 newsletter.

“School rating metrics

A+ and several partners have been pushing for more accurate and rigorous scoring standards for schools, or a better School Performance Framework.  We’ve engaged in conversations with district leadership several months ago, and have been notified that DPS is in the process of revising the SPF. We hope these revisions will be publicly available soon.”

According to the A+ Denver website: The mission of A+ Denver:   A+ Denver will aggressively and relentlessly focus the community on improving academic success for all public school students.

Does this February explanation, coming after a four month silence, sound like an “aggressive and relentless” pursuit of anything?  It doesn’t to me, especially when there are still no specifics offered, especially when I, as one of the signatories, have heard nothing about the supposed conversations, and most especially when new schools are about to be approved and old schools bullied based on this bogus measurement. Talk about no accountability. But then, accountability is only for teachers, not for the elected Board of Education and its boss, Superintendent Tom Boasberg, nor evidently the “oversight committee” itself.

And on a lighter note…unless you are a 76ers fan


The 76ers record as of March 19, 2015 – 16-52 for a “winning” percentage of .235. And they are not even the worst team in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. The Knicks’ hold that honor at 14-53 and .209. And pathetically, the Knicks aren’t even the worst in the NBA, for they are tied with Western conference Timberwolves for worst in the NBA. Race to the Bottom. Who are the real losers of the business model gone awry?  Basketball fans and public school students.

And finally, sad to say, the Broncos did not win the Super Bowl and my first sports hero, Cleveland Indians third baseman Al “Flip” Rosen, passed away at the age of 90.