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News Release - State Board of Education approves waivers for state’s first charter school on tribal land

March 11, 2021

State Board of Education approves waivers for state’s first charter school on tribal land

DENVER -- The State Board of Education at its meeting on Wednesday and Thursday approved waivers from state law requested for the Kwiyagat Community Academy, Colorado’s first charter school to open on tribal land. 

Requested by the Charter School Institute on behalf of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, the waivers are designed to show respect for the sovereign authority of the tribe and help avoid confusion and conflict between Colorado and tribal laws. The Kwiyagat Community Academy’s goal is to improve outcomes for students living on Ute Mountain Ute land and nearby areas by grounding its programming in Ute culture, language and traditions. The school is expected to open in fall 2021.

Board continues the temporary modification of 2018 directives for Pueblo 60 School District

The state board directed Pueblo 60 School District to continue working with Relay Graduate School of Education for partial management of Risley International Academy of Innovation for another school year.  The school has experienced nine years of low student academic performance, and in 2018 the board directed the district to engage an external partner to fully manage the school. Given challenges arising during the pandemic, the board modified that 2018 order last September to allow for partial management for the 2020-21 school year. Relay will continue to have decision-making authority over instructional programming and teacher professional development for the 2021-22 school year.

Board honors 2021 Colorado Teacher of the Year

The board recognized 2021 Colorado Teacher of the Year Gerardo Muñoz, a social studies teacher at Denver Center for International Studies at Baker in Denver Public Schools. Muñoz was selected to represent the entire teaching profession in Colorado for 2021 based on his dedication to teaching, his passion for social studies and social justice, and for inspiring a love of learning in his students that empowers them and prepares them to thrive. 

Muñoz has taught middle and high school students at the Denver Center for International Studies at Baker for 14 years. His classes include Concurrent Enrollment Ethnic Studies, Advanced Placement World History and 5280 Challenge - the school’s student board of education - through DPS’s Student Voice and Leadership Program. During his 21 years in education, Muñoz has been involved in a number of programs, initiatives and organizations to promote equity and anti-racism.

In other actions, the board: