CHULA VISTA — Chula Vista elementary schools Superintendent Libby Gil will not be hired to lead the Denver Public Schools, in part because of her strong support for bilingual education.
Denver recruited Gil as one of three finalists for the job to lead Colorado’s second-largest school district. The Denver Public Schools have about 70,000 students at 130 kindergarten-through-12th-grade schools.
The Denver school board announced Thursday that it had hired Jerry Wartgow,
retired president of Colorado’s community college system.
“I am an advocate for bilingual education and they are not,” Gil said. “That was the issue that was not in alignment with their philosophy.”
Denver board President Elaine Gantz Berman said, “She does have strongly held views regarding bilingual education, and that was an issue of concern for the board.”
The Denver schools are under a court order to run a three-year English-language acquisition program, while Gil told them she supported a three- to seven-year transition before students learning English are placed into English-only classes.
Ron Unz, the author of voter-approved Proposition 227, the initiative that bans bilingual education except when parents sign waivers allowing it for their children, has been to Denver recently to lay the groundwork for a similar ballot initiative in Colorado next year, Berman said.
She said Unz had left a message for her as recently as Thursday, but the two never spoke about Gil’s candidacy.
Berman said another consideration in the decision was that Gil runs a K-6 district instead of a K-12 system.
When asked if she would seek another job, Gil said, “If there are opportunities, possibly, but I am very happy to be where I am. I have not completed what I need to do here.”
Gil said that on Thursday she rejected a recruiter’s invitation to apply for four other superintendent jobs.
Gil repeated her support for bilingual education yesterday. She said improved scores on state-mandated tests and other exams prove its success in Chula Vista.
Gil said bilingualism is particularly valuable in the border region. While bilingual education has not been perfect, she said, it should not be scrapped. Gil said English-language literacy for all students is a priority in Chula Vista.