CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – In most school districts, collective bargaining negotiations take place behind closed doors. That policy has been changed in Douglas County.

On Wednesday — for the first time ever — the district opened its talks to the public.

The Douglas County School District and its teachers union laid out their difference in front of an audience, playing out collective bargaining negotiations in public.

Some parents see this as a positive change.

“Coming in today and hearing both perspectives straight from the horse’s mouth has been very beneficial,” parent Karin Piper said.

Piper is part of a group of parents who have pushed for open talks, as tension between the district and the union reached a tipping point.

Teachers accused the district of trying to break down the union by limiting its access to schools and cutting its funding.

“What I’m seeing in this proposal is really a silencing of teachers voices,” Brenda Smith, the president of the teachers union, said on Wedesday at the meeting.

That’s not how the district views the issue. It accused the union of slander, and added a line in its proposal that forbids the spreading of lies.

Assistant Superintendent Dan McMinimee said “It’s not about censoring, it’s making sure people in the buildings have accurate information.”

As for the parents, they say they want the truth, and that public bargaining will be the key.

A bill at the state Capitol that would have required all teacher negotiations be public failed in the Senate.


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