CASTLE ROCK — With another school board election around the corner and several charter school bills making their way through the Colorado General Assembly, it appears the gloves are coming off.
Someone in Douglas County has adopted the tactics of the Jefferson County Education Association and created fake social media accounts with the intent to deceive.
During the height of the campaign against three Jefferson County School District Board of Education members that were eventually recalled, several fake Twitter accounts were opened that were used to discredit people within the Jeffco administration and board.
In Douglas County, it’s moved to Facebook. The DCSD Charter Parent Coalition was started on Feb. 14 and has more than 200 likes. The page says, “We are a group of parents and community members in Douglas County School District in Douglas County Colorado supporting charter Schools.” Posts on the page advocate for public school choice.
On March 6, a new Facebook page called the Charter Parent Coalition of Douglas County started. The creators of this newer page used the original charter parent page’s logo and a similar name in an apparent attempt to mislead social media users. Despite a smattering of carefully selected positive posts, the content of this newer page is decidedly anti-charter. The page includes volunteer sign up forms, promises of community events in the future, and calls to action asking readers to contact state legislators to support legislation hostile to charter schools or oppose legislation favorable to them. It has 15 likes.
Though the creators of the false charter coalition page remain anonymous, the page appears to be supported by well-known political activists opposed to the Douglas County Board of Education’s conservative majority. The involvement of these activists has led some conservatives in the county to allege that the fake coalition page is part of a wider political effort to destabilize the pro-charter school board ahead of a crucial election in November 2017.
A separate Facebook page, SPEAK for DCSD, shared one of the imitation page’s posts on March 16. SPEAK pushes posts from various authors—most of them anonymous—into its community of nearly 7,000 followers. The page’s primary admin maintains that posts are shared without bias toward one side or the other, but most posts on the page are hostile to the board majority or reform-minded policies.
The developers of the real DCSD Charter Parent Coalition page posted over the weekend their intent to report the page to Facebook.
“It has come to our attention from a follower that a group has stolen our logo and created an imposter page and that group is sharing misleading information in an effort to distract and mislead parents in this county,” the post says. “THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE. We will be filing an imposter claim with Facebook today. It’s really sad that the anti-charter folks are so desperate they would do this.”