A group of about 40 residents, employees and former employees concerned about the leadership at Durango School District 9-R is calling for the termination of Superintendent Dan Snowberger’s contract after they found alleged discrepancies and inaccuracies in Snowberger’s résumés and applications for past jobs and 9-R.
Especially troubling for the group – the Durango 9-R Central Office Accountability – said David Dillman, a former 9-R teacher who is retired and serving as the group’s spokesman, is a failure to account for Snowberger’s claim that he worked for nine years as a teacher and a more recent claim that he has served as a Title IX officer.
The group’s report, “Misleading Leadership?: A Close Examination of Dan Snowberger’s Educational Career Records White Paper,” states: “Durango 9-R Central Office Accountability hopes all stakeholders will review the contents of this report and consider whether Mr. Snowberger truly represents the values of the citizens living within the Durango 9-R boundaries, most especially the children attending 9-R schools. Further, all should consider whether he can successfully represent Durango 9-R’s employees in a meaningful capacity and let the appropriate 9-R Board of Education member know their feelings.”
The group publicly released the white paper Monday on its website and provided a copy to The Durango Herald.
Interviewing with Thompson School DistrictIn January, the school board allowed renewal of Snowberger’s contract through June 30, 2020. Dillman said group members were dismayed when Snowberger interviewed for the superintendent position with the Thompson School District within a month after having his contract extended. In March, the Herald reported Snowberger was a finalist for the job with the Thompson district in Loveland.
“Why would someone want to leave after having a contract that extended from 18 to 30 months? In sports, a contract renewal indicates the ‘free agent’ is now dedicated to the team that signed him, not immediately back on the market looking for a new/better deal,” Dillman wrote in an email to the Herald.
Dillman said he asked school board President Nancy Stubbs about Snowberger’s application to Thompson schools after his contract renewal, but he was not satisfied with her response.
He then sought Snowberger’s application to the Thompson district through an open-records request, which led to the writing of the white paper.
Board responseStubbs said at a school board meeting Tuesday, one person is now associated with the white paper, Dillman, and the board will examine allegations in it. “We will examine the document and take it seriously,” she said.
Previously, she had said the board would not take into consideration an anonymous document.
“We do have a process and are available for individuals and groups to come to us with concerns, complaints and questions,” she wrote.
She also said when Snowberger was hired, he was vetted by a professional firm, McPherson & Jacobson, and by the school board. Also, she said the school board made site visits to the Harrison School District to further vet Snowberger before he was hired
School board member Stephanie Moran said in a telephone interview that she was on the school board when Snowberger was hired in 2012. She said his vetting was “extensive and thorough.”
“I believe by and large the district has been going in the right direction under Dan’s leadership. Does that mean everybody loves and agrees with everything Dan does? No,” she said.
School board member Mick Souder did not respond to an email and phone call seeking comment. School board member Shere Byrd did not comment on the white paper in a brief telephone call and did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Snowberger has taken an extended medical leave from his position after his wife, Olga, suffered multiple pelvis fractures and severe bruising in a car accident Nov. 30 and was taken to St. Anthony Hospital in Denver for medical treatment.
Deputy Superintendent Andy Burns is temporarily leading the district in Snowberger’s absence.
Snowberger has not returned an email and telephone call for comment on the white paper or this story. Sarah Berggren, Snowberger’s executive assistant, said because he is on Family Medical Leave, he is not accessing either his 9-R email or his cellphone.
White paper claimsThe 44-page white paper enumerates the various inconsistencies and provides timelines and footnotes with links to supporting documentation. The Herald obtained Snowberger’s résumés and application packets through open-records requests and also reviewed the supporting documents. Among some claims in the white paper:
Snowberger misrepresented his previous service as a Title IX officer.In October, Snowberger told the Herald that he had previously served as a Title IX officer “for multiple years in other districts” where he worked. He was responding to questions from the Herald about an investigation the district conducted of an alleged sexual assault on a Riverview Elementary School student by a classmate. The parent of the alleged victim filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. He felt the district failed to follow its own policies and procedures while conducting the investigation and in concluding no sexual assault took place. The Herald had asked Snowberger what his qualifications were to conduct a sexual assault investigation.
The white paper states: “Mr. Snowberger’s 2012 and 2018 cover letters, résumés and 2018 application contain thousands of words with a total of 64 bulleted items. They are filled with numerous instances of ‘overseeing’ and ‘managing’ and ‘leading’ different aspects of public education. The total number of times ‘Title IX’ or ‘Officer of Civil Rights’ mentioned is zero.
Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed in 1972 that prohibits sex discrimination in education, including sexual misconduct. By law, schools are required to have a staff member trained as a Title IX compliance officer.
Snowberger has misrepresented the length of time, nine years, that he served as a teacher before becoming an administrator.“On the 9-R website, Snowberger’s biography claims he ‘taught at various grade levels’ prior to his experience at ‘Winter Springs Elementary in Seminole County, Fla.’ as an assistant principal starting in July 1997. In both his 2012 and 2018 résumés, Mr. Snowberger lists assistant principal position for the three years preceding Winter Springs, not teaching experience. Further, his teaching experience is listed as only three years, covering 1991-92, 1992-93 and the 1993-94 school years.”
His 2018 résumé for the job at the Thompson district indicates he served as a teacher for the Lake County Public Schools in Tavares, Florida, from August 1991 to June 1994.
His 2012 résumé to the Seminole County Public Schools in Sanford, Florida, states he served as a teacher for the Lake County Public Schools from 1991 to 1994 (starting months are not listed).
Before serving as a teacher with Lake County Public Schools, the Seminole School résumé lists a position as a “Compensatory Education Instructor/paraprofessional” with the Dade County Public Schools in Miami, Florida, from 1985 to 1991 (starting months are not listed).
The white paper states “six of his nine years’ teaching experience remain unaccounted for.”
Snowberger misrepresented in his 2018 application to the Thompson district that his supervisor at Lake County Public Schools, Shirley Whitmore, was deceased.However, the Herald found and contacted Whitmore in Eustis, Florida. Whitmore confirmed she worked as principal when Snowberger taught in that district. She was complementary of him. “Everyone liked him, and he just loved the students,” Whitmore told the Herald.
The white paper includes several other claims of misrepresentations and questions the ethics of other actions in Snowberger’s résumés and applications including:
Misrepresenting his date of graduation from Nova Southeastern University. On his résumé provided to Thompson, he listed the date as 1990. According to college transcripts he provided to the Seminole School District, Snowberger graduated in May 1991.Misrepresenting or obscuring his involvement with Cornerstone Prep School, a private Los Angeles charter school that the California Department of Education lists as closed by the Los Angeles Unified School District in July 2011. Snowberger served as chief academic officer at Cornerstone, according to his résumés to the Seminole and Thompson school districts. His résumé for Seminole states he worked part time at Cornerstone from 2002 to 2006 and full time from 2006 to 2007. His résumé for Thompson states he worked for Cornerstone from January 2003 to November 2009.Questioning the propriety of working for Cornerstone during periods of employment with the Douglas County School District from July 2002 to June 2006 and with the Harrison School District from July 2007 to June 2012.Questioning the listing of his supervisor at Cornerstone as “Dr. Amy Semonv” (whose last name is correctly spelled “Semenov”) on his 2018 Thompson application and listing her contact information as unknown. According to the white paper: “A Google search found a Dr. Amy Semenov (correct spelling) serving as one of the Board of Directors for the 2018-19 school year for Liza Jackson Preparatory School in Fort Walton Beach, Fl. Dr. Semenov’s biography states she has been involved in charter schools in both California and Florida. If this is the same Dr. Semenov listed by Mr. Snowberger, her location and contact information is not ‘unknown’ as he claimed.”Semenov emailed the Herald confirming she worked with Snowberger at Cornerstone.
‘We are not going away’The white paper calls for Snowberger’s termination.
“The details described here, along with other evidence and issues that have been brought to the Board, should promote further action, up to and including Mr. Snowberger’s immediate dismissal,” it states.
Dillman said Durango 9-R Central Office Accountability did not plan “to pack the board meeting” calling for Snowberger’s termination but encourages others to read the white paper and examine supporting documents.
“If Mr. Snowberger is renewed, many in our group are advocating for beginning work on additional white papers, including but not limited to his handling of finances and hiring practices. ... We are not going away whether Mr. Snowberger is renewed or non-renewed,” Dillman wrote in his email to the Herald.
email@example.comThis story has been updated to include changes the Durango 9-R Central Office Accountability group made to its white paper.