Douglas County school board candidate David DiCarlo gained support in late October from Taylor Rhodes, executive director at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO). RMGO is Colorado’s largest state-based gun lobby, with more than 200,000 members.
According to TRACER, Rhodes’ independent expenditure committee, Coloradans for Safer Neighborhoods, spent $3,500 for text messages supporting DiCarlo’s “school safety plan for the Douglas County School District.”
While DiCarlo’s campaign website doesn’t mention a school safety plan, he has campaigned on the position that the district hasn’t done enough to protect students since the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch that killed 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo.
Speaking to Brandon Wark of Free State Colorado, DiCarlo said, “Safety is a problem, and we need to have all options on the table when discussing this. Adding SROs (school resource officers) to the buildings that don’t have one is great, but we need to do more. There was armed security at the STEM school, and it didn’t make a difference. The only person that could have saved Kendrick Castillo was that teacher.”
DiCarlo attended a September school safety summit hosted by the Colorado Parent Advocacy Network (CPAN), where guest panelists included Jimmy Graham, owner of Able Shepherd, a nonprofit that provides mass shooter training to schools and churches and Laura Carno, executive director of FASTER Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response) Colorado.
The summit called on attendees to advocate for allowing armed security teams, including teachers, at their schools. CPAN board member Deborah Flora called for approaching school boards about budgeting for arming teachers as a first line of defense. Today Flora declared her candidacy for the Fourth Congressional District, following Rep. Ken Buck’s announcement that he won’t run again.
On the campaign trail, DiCarlo has said he would hold safety and security meetings with the community to see what parents want. “Then, we take that information and make a plan. I don’t think we’ve had enough hard conversations. We need to go further,” DiCarlo said on the Mandy Connell podcast.
Douglas County school board president Mike Peterson has said in the past that he doesn’t favor arming teachers and that he would “never ever want a teacher to be in a position where they are faced with a choice of staying in a classroom or to go out and engage.”
DiCarlo on Republican endorsements
DiCarlo told conservative radio talk show host Randy Corporan in September that he believes the backing he’s received from the Colorado Republican party proves he’s the only conservative of conviction in the race.
“I am endorsed by the county Republican party. I am endorsed by sitting senators Mark Baisley and Kevin Van Winkle, former senator Harvey Holbert, former Speaker Frank McNulty, former Douglas County School board president and CU regent John Carson and county-level officials as well. I look at it and say I don’t need a slate.”
Running as part of a slate allows candidates with similar platforms to share a campaign slogan, campaign materials, and promotional efforts. As an individual, DiCarlo is free to express his opinions without having to gain consensus from anyone else.
Despite the Republican backing, contributions to DiCarlo’s campaign pale in comparison to his opponents. DiCarlo’s campaign contributions through October 30 total $7,915. His opponents Jason Page (also running on a conservative platform) and Brad Gieger’s contributions through the same date total $17,710 and $29,811, respectively.
DiCarlo on teacher pay in Douglas County
DiCarlo doesn’t believe it’s fair to compare Douglas County educators’ salaries to those in Cherry Creek. He says Cherry Creek is an urban/suburban district while Douglas County is suburban/rural. It’s unclear why that makes a difference in teacher pay, but DiCarlo says Cherry Creek is funded “by the way things used to be” and that Douglas County can’t get into an “arms race.”
Connell argued that DiCarlo’s reasoning doesn’t change the reality that Douglas County teachers can drive 20 minutes and make $20,000 more per year. “Either Erin Kane (Douglas County superintendent) is a bald-faced liar or she’s using data to try and let people know we’re in a dire situation. I’ve talked to several teachers who definitely know they can make more somewhere else,” said Connell.
DiCarlo doesn’t address whether he believes Kane is a liar. He responded, “If our teachers are going there, where are Cherry Creek’s teachers going? What we have is a nationwide teacher’s shortage.”
DiCarlo on wokeness
Speaking to Corporon, DiCarlo said, “ I don’t believe there’s any drag show stuff going on with the district. I’ve not heard that. There are certainly some things that have happened in the county, and there’s always a question in the library with regard to what books are appropriate or not. I think it’s pretty easy when you look at it. Is it pornographic?”
“With regard to some of the other issues, I know that there’s been some movement on things like critical race theory. I think the bigger the issue, the bigger problem with this becomes what do the people want? How fast do they want it, and how quickly can we undo it?”
DiCarlo on school vouchers
DiCarlo agreed with Corporon, who said the district lost 20 years of progress when voters elected the “radical leftist” school board in 2015 and gave up on appealing a Colorado Supreme Court decision striking down a voucher program that would’ve secured public funds for students to attend private, mostly religious schools.
“I support empowering parents,” said DiCarlo. “They have to choose what best education option fits their child because the system exists for the child. The child does not exist to provide a system. So the taxpayer dollars they’ve contributed should follow that student to whatever is best for that student.”