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DPS board votes to close 3 schools

At a special meeting Thursday, the board voted unanimously to close Denver Discovery and MSLA. The board voted 6-1 to close Fairview.

DENVER — The Denver Public Schools Board of Education voted Thursday during a special meeting to close three schools due to "critically low enrollment."

The schools recommended for closure were Denver Discovery, Fairview Elementary and the Mathematics and Science Leadership Academy (MSLA).  

The board voted unanimously to close Denver Discovery and MSLA, and voted 6-1 to close Fairview. 

"They just don’t listen to us," Fairview Elementary parent Najah Abu Serryeh said. "[Closing it will] make our kids far away from the friends they’ve known for too many years. Really this is unfair."

Housing developments near Fairview expect to bring many more families into the area in the coming years. DPS argued a lot of those potential students would likely opt-in to school choice and go somewhere else in the district.

"My responsibility is making sure those students have the best education, and I do not think they have it at Fairview," DPS Superintendent Alex Marrero said at the meeting Thursday.   

The district's plan calls for closing the three schools by the end of the 2022-23 school year. Students at MSLA will be unified with Valverde, and Fairview Elementary students will be unified with Cheltenham for the 2023-24 school year. Denver Discovery students and families will be given priority enrollment to secure a preferred school within the district.

Staff at the three schools are guaranteed other positions because of an agreement the Denver Classroom Teachers Association made with DPS ahead of any consolidation.

Last fall, the school board voted against closing any schools. Several board members criticized superintendent Alex Marrero, claiming district leadership did not include community engagement in the decision-making process.

In February, Marrero shared new data with the board, with a new plan to move forward with options. No schools were formally recommended for closure at that time, but the district said the option was likely for some of the smallest schools, including Denver Discovery, MSLA and Fairview, each of which has fewer than 120 students.

"DPS has failed you. We did not do what we should have done," DPS Board of Education member Michelle Quattlebaum said regarding the closures. 

"It doesn’t make it less painful. It’s not going to make people less angry, and it’s not going to produce a tremendous amount of trust, and I hope that moving forward we can do that," DPS Board of Education member Scott Esserman said. 

DPS held community feedback meetings this month at each of the three schools recommended for closure.

Marrero in February said recommendations for 12 other schools, categorized as having "concerning enrollment," would be discussed for action in the 2024-2025 school year.

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