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Durango School District rejects accusations leveled against candidate in board election

Unsigned letter circulates on social media
Durango School District 9-R spokeswoman Julie Popp said the school board consulted with its attorney as well as the legal team at the Colorado Association of School Boards and found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Andrea Parmenter, who is running to represent District E on the school board. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

Durango School District 9-R says allegations accusing an incumbent school board candidate of failing to collect enough signatures to run for election are unfounded.

The allegations also accuse the candidate, Andrea Parmenter, of intentionally failing to disclose a change in address when she moved from District D to District E while serving as a school board member – something Parmenter denies.

Parmenter has been certified as an eligible candidate for District E in the school board election by the school district’s designated election official. That certification was passed along to the La Plata County Clerk and Recorder’s Office.

Parmenter

“I am a candidate for School Board Director, District E who followed the printed election guidelines and submitted my ballot petition with signatures for validation in good faith, by the due date,” Parmenter wrote in an email to The Durango Herald. “I have received no communication indicating that there are errors of any kind with my petition from the school district or the elections office.”

The unsigned allegations have been circulating on social media, emailed to the Herald and distributed in a newsletter by the La Plata Republican Central Committee. One version of the allegations includes an unsigned, single-spaced three-page letter outlining the claims, without offering evidence.

In an interview Thursday, Dave Peters, chairman of the Republican Central Committee, said the letter making the allegations was written by Britny Hanson of Durango. When reached for comment Thursday, Hanson said she would provide supporting documentation in a follow up email to the Herald, but as of 7:30 p.m., no email had been received.

Parmenter previously served on the 9-R school board as the District D representative. She moved to a new residence Aug. 16 that put her in District E. She notified school board members of the move on Aug. 10, before moving, said school district spokeswoman Julie Popp.

Durango School District 9-R school board director districts, which are still valid for the 2021 election.

After informing the school board of the move, Popp said Parmenter was scheduled to vacate her seat at the Aug. 28 school board meeting. But that meeting was canceled and rescheduled for Sept. 7, when Parmenter went on to vacate her seat at the board.

“We’ve consulted with our lawyer as well as the legal team at the Colorado Association of School Boards regarding the recent allegations pertaining to the school board election and we have found no evidence of wrongdoing, and we are committed to ensuring a lawful election,” Popp wrote in a statement to the Herald.

The unsigned allegation goes on to say Parmenter continued to vote at school board meetings even after announcing her planned resignation, which Parmenter questioned.

“I can only think that this anonymous writer is taking issue with the fact that I voted to approve the agenda item that would allow the board to declare my district vacant,” Parmenter said. “So it was a procedural vote to bring the meeting to order and approve the agenda item that was added to allow me to step down.”

Gulec

Parmenter’s opponent, Donna Gulec, said she is aware of the allegations against Parmenter, but she doesn’t know who is behind the allegations. She said she hasn’t formally reached out to the school district about the matter.

“I have not (contacted the school board),” Gulec said. “’Cause I don’t think it’s my place to do that, actually. I mean, I’m running against her. I just need to distance myself and whatever happens, happens, I guess.”

Parmenter cautioned people to take anonymous social media claims with a grain of salt. And she questioned why inflammatory, accusatory and anonymous social media posts deserve attention from the media.

cburney@durangoherald.com

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