Proposal for Standard Teacher Rights & Protections

Student's hand holding a pencil

Currently, DPS innovation schools have the ability – with a majority vote of the school’s educators – to opt out of some parts of the collective bargaining agreement between the teachers’ union (DCTA) and the school district. The Board of Education has made a proposal that would “provide the rights and protections of the DCTA collective bargaining agreement (as a floor) to all licensed teachers, regardless of whether they work at an innovation or non-innovation school.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Execution Limitation say?

The Board will not move forward with Executive Limitation 8 regarding calendar waivers.  The Board has temporarily tabled Executive Limitation 13 regarding compensation to spend more time discussing a global response for all employees on compensation.  

As revised by the Board on March 21, the proposed Executive Limitation 12 says:

Accordingly, the Superintendent will not: 

  1. For any new innovation plan or renewal of an innovation plan, recommend approval of any new innovation plan or renewal of an innovation plan that waives provisions of the DCTA collective bargaining agreement or the Teacher Employment Compensation and Dismissal Act (TECDA), with the exception that schools may continue to seek waivers of C.R.S. 22-63-201, which permits flexibility on licensure for non-core content subjects. The superintendent may continue to recommend innovation plans that provide rights that are greater than what is provided for in the DCTA agreement (e.g. additional stipends, more planning time etc.). The superintendent retains the right and discretion to present an innovation plan to the Board of Education that includes some of these named waivers when it is necessary to develop a plan under the State’s Accountability Clock and when innovation status appears to be the best path forward for the school and these waivers would increase the likelihood of the State Board approving this option instead of school closure or conversion to a charter school. 

  1. Fail to develop systems, policies, and/or contractual terms to create supportive working environments.

Why did the DPS Board of Education introduce this policy for a vote now?

Select Board members felt it was important to introduce this policy proposal to end inconsistent employment procedures and limit compensation decisions, such as what bonuses could not be used for. The proposal originated from many conversations with teachers over the past two years. Some members of the Board felt it was important to have this discussion prior to the start of the 2022 DCTA Master Agreement negotiations and the renewals of approximately 50 innovation plans next school year.

Teachers are involved with deciding what is best for their school. Why are you taking this away?

Teachers will continue to be involved with what is best for their schools through their school’s innovation plan. Nothing in the proposal would eliminate that. The proposal requires protections to ensure that every teacher’s voice will be heard, thus creating a stronger plan.

Is my innovation school going away? *Will Innovation schools lose their innovation status? *Will Innovation schools lose their flexibility to innovate according to their plans?

Innovation schools (and traditional schools) will continue to innovate and meet the needs of their students while honoring the statutory and collective bargaining rights of educators. These two ideas are not mutually exclusive. If the executive limitation policies pass, innovation schools will not lose their status, nor will they lose the flexibility they offer to innovate according to their innovation plans.

If the policy passes, when would it take effect?

The policy will not impact existing innovation plans. This guidance is for new innovation plans or the renewal of innovation plans that will be designed in the 2022-23 school year and begin implementation in the 2023-24 school year.

Where can I find the results of the Teacher and School Leader survey regarding the executive limitation?

You can find results of principal and teacher surveys in the tab Stakeholder Feedback Summary which you can also find on the proposed Executive Limitations webpage.

What does the Innovation Schools Act require and how do the amendments to Executive Limitation 12 align with the requirements?

The Innovation Schools Act encourages but does not require local school boards to approve school flexibilities in an innovation plan. The Act says: “While the ultimate responsibility for controlling the instruction in public schools continues to lie with the school district board of education of each public school, each school district board of education is strongly encouraged to delegate to each public school a high degree of autonomy in implementing curriculum, making personnel decisions, organizing the school day, determining the most effective use of resources, and generally organizing the delivery of high-quality educational services, thereby empowering each public school to tailor its services most effectively and efficiently to meet the needs of the population of students it serves.”  C.R.S. 22-32.5-102(1)(e).  The Act does require that the local school board (1) “receive and review each innovation plan” submitted; (2) “either approve or disapprove the innovation plan” within 60 days of receiving it; and (3) provide a written explanation if the school board rejects the plan. C.R.S. 22-32.5-104. With Executive Limitation 12, the Board is communicating what it would need to see for the superintendent to recommend that an innovation plan be approved by the Board.  A school could still send an innovation plan to the Board that includes waivers of TECDA and the DCTA Agreement. Under this executive limitation, the superintendent would still present the plan to the Board; however, it would be presented without the superintendent’s recommendation for approval. The Board would vote to approve or disapprove the plan within 60 days and provide a written rationale if it rejects the plan.  In summary, Executive Limitation 12 is designed to comply with the requirements of the Innovation Schools Act, while also transparently communicating to schools what the Board would support for an innovation plan.  


Even prior to the proposal of Executive Limitation 12, the district has communicated certain district policies that cannot be waived in an innovation plan. You can read about these pre-existing requirements in Superintendent Regulation ADE-R. If Executive Limitation 12 passes, the superintendent will update Regulation ADE-R to include the new guidance from the Board on what he should or should not recommend to the Board.        

What if there are DCTA Agreement waivers that a school continues to believe are critical for their school’s specialized program?

If there are DCTA waivers that a school community believes are critical to their specialized program, the school should consider using the waiver process set forth in the DCTA master agreement.  Article 2-4-1 of the master agreement allows a school principal and DCTA representative to jointly request a waiver of a provision in the DCTA Agreement.  Approval of such a waiver must be granted by the Board of Education and the DCTA.

My school has a non-licensed teacher for a non-core class. Would this proposal prevent that?

The final revised policy would continue to allow waivers of C.R.S. 22-63-201, which would allow flexibility on licensure for non-core content subjects.

Are teachers at innovation schools prevented from joining the DCTA teacher’s union?

No, any teacher in DPS, regardless of innovation status, can be a member of the teacher’s union.

The policy proposal would grant TECDA rights for all teachers even at innovation schools. What is TECDA?

It stands for the Teacher Employment Compensation and Dismissal Act and became law in 1990. There are several components of TECDA, however the accrual of non-probationary status and the teacher dismissal rights are what the policy proposal is focused on. The attainment of non-probationary status is intended to be an acknowledgment of a proven track record of effectiveness. After three consecutive years of demonstrated effectiveness at a school (based on effective or distinguished LEAP ratings), a teacher earns non-probationary status. After a teacher earns non-probationary status, they can no longer be non-renewed at the end of the school year.  They may only be dismissed using the strict due process standards of TECDA, which includes the option of a six-day trial to the court on whether the district has cause for dismissal. TECDA also includes protection for teachers who are reduced from their building, or RIB’d. If a teacher is reduced and cannot find another teacher position in the district for the following year, the district will guarantee a one-year limited term assignment for the following year. Many but not all innovation schools waive TECDA,. As a result, the teachers do not have the higher dismissal protections and may not be eligible for a limited term assignment if their position is reduced.

Will this proposal eliminate at-will employment and annual contracts?

Yes, innovation schools could no longer offer at-will employment or annual contracts. If passed, TECDA would create additional employment rights for innovation schools that previously waived TECDA. Consistent with TECDA (see above), probationary teachers at innovation schools could be non-renewed at the end of the year. Non-probationary teachers could only be dismissed using the strict due process standards of TECDA, which includes the option of a six-day trial to the court on whether the district has cause for dismissal.

Does this policy proposal impact innovation schools using actual teacher salaries vs average teacher salaries when creating a budget?

No, this policy does not impact whether an innovation school is permitted to budget on actual vs average teacher salaries. This is not addressed under the DCTA master agreement or TECDA, so therefore it would not be impacted by this policy proposal.  There should be no budget impact to schools based on the current proposal.

The district created an Innovation Pause and Reflect document in 2021. How did the board incorporate the information into the policy proposal?

You can view the report here. Phase 3 of the report lists the findings, which include support for student-centered allocation of resources through flexibilities. However, there was less clarity from respondents on how the waivers lead to better student outcomes. The findings also highlight the lack of clarity about the implications of HR waivers and continued confusion about the process and status by stakeholders. Appendix A also lists many operational inefficiencies and complexities due to having 53 innovation schools on different calendars. And finally, some of the interviews mention unfair and questionable practices where teachers are coerced into voting on their plans against their own professional interests.

What does the Denver School Leader Association (principal’s union) think of the proposal?

The DSLA has not publicly taken a position on the policy proposal.

Why is there no sharing about best practices happening? How can we make this available to all schools? Can we add that to the master agreement?

In order to improve education in all schools, effective practices should be shared, encouraged and memorialized within collective bargaining agreements. The master agreement acts as a floor, not a limit.