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DPS cancels Friday classes at all schools after East HS shooting

"Tomorrow, March 24, is a non-student contact mental health day for all DPS students and employees," the district said on its website.

DENVER — Denver Public Schools has canceled classes at all schools Friday to allow students and staff to have a mental health day, the district said.

"To allow us all to take a moment to pause and process the challenging events this year, including the data breach, tomorrow, March 24, is a non-student contact mental health day for all DPS students and employees," Superintendent Alex Marrero said in a statement on the district's website.

Marrero said the district will have 14 Discovery Link extended care sites available, and will be providing food pickup locations. 

Two administrators were injured in the shooting Wednesday morning at East High School. The suspect, a 17-year-old student, was found dead in Park County Wednesday night. 

The district announced Wednesday that East High School would be closed for the remainder of the week after the shooting.

Thursday afternoon, students staged a sit-in at the state Capitol to once again ask for tougher gun control measures at the state level. About three weeks ago, the same group walked from East High School to the Capitol, asking for new gun laws after their classmate, Luis Garcia, was shot and killed outside the school. 

One of the students at the Capitol Thursday was East sophomore Alison Sittiscri. She said they've had four scares so far this year -- a shooting near the Carla Madison Rec Center and the school, a swatting scare last month, Wednesday's shooting, and the shooting of Garcia

"We have had more days off because of shooting incidents," Sittiscri said. "We've had one snow day, and if we count today and tomorrow, that would be four days off for shootings." 

After the shooting Wednesday, Marrero said the district would add an armed officer to each of the district’s high schools. Two officers will now staff East High School. This plan will stand through the remainder of the school year, Marrero said.

“Today was my fourth visit to Denver Health’s Intensive Care Unit due to victims of gun violence. These events should not have happened on my watch or on this Board’s watch,” Marrero wrote.

The school board voted unanimously in the summer of 2020 to remove 18 Denver Police officers from its schools and rely on the school district's own safety officers instead. The decision came amid social justice protests and was based on data showing the majority of students ticketed and arrested were Black and Latino students between the ages of 10 and 15.

Also this school year, the district was hit by a data breach that exposed detailed personal information, including fingerprints and bank account numbers, about DPS staff. DPS released the news of the breach on March 3, and a spokesman said letters were mailed to those impacted at the same time -- about 58 days after DPS discovered the breach.

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