DENVER - The Life Skills Center used to be a place for kids looking for a last chance at school.
So, when Denver Public Schools voted to close the charter school, Principal Santiago Lopez made a prediction that he claims is coming true today.
"I just lose confidence in Denver Public Schools as a system because they are having so many kids that are left behind in programs like ours when they're closing schools constantly," Lopez said.
Lopez sent a letter to the Denver Board of Education claiming he followed up on what happened to his students after the closure of the Life Skills Center. He says despite district promises for improvement, more than half of the students that used to attend Life Skills have dropped out for good and they're likely on the streets.
"Life Skills was closed because in my eyes, DPS was saying they could do it better," Lopez said. "With the data that I pulled, they didn't do it better."
But, DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg says Lopez's numbers are wrong. He says every students got help from a liaison with placement after the closure of Life Skills.
"I find it somewhat ironic and somewhat disingenuous," Boasberg said. "This is a school that was closed down because of the extraordinarily poor performance."
Boasberg says too many students were failing at Life Skills which is why the district had to take action. He says, now, there are multiple programs for these troubled students including the opening of a new program at the same location as Life Skills.
"I think it's very clear that the students are benefitting from this," Boasberg said. "We have better schools with stronger support, stronger academic programs for our kids."
Boasberg points to data that shows the district's dropout rate has been cut in half over the last year.
"Great. They're doing well. They're doing wonderful," Lopez said. "But, what about our students? What about students in alternative settings that are still falling through those cracks?"
Boasberg admits the district does have much to do keep more students from dropping out and learning at the proper grade level. But, he says those 'cracks' are getting smaller.
"We have been very focused on supporting these kids," Boasberg said. "We recognize this is a group of kids who have very significant needs. We need to be there to support them."
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