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Parents, students comment on DPS safety plan

A proposed safety plan addresses armed officers in schools, weapons detection systems, and protocols for incoming students.

DENVER — The Denver Public Schools (DPS) Board of Education is hearing public comment from parents and students for the first time since putting out a draft safety plan for the district.

A public comment meeting lasted for hours Monday night as parents, students and community members gave their input.

"It does very little to address the root causes of violence," Sky O'Toole, a DPS student said. "Instead, pouring resources into unproven carceral solutions such as SROs. These policies are heavily reactionary and will do next to nothing to ensure we are truly safe in our hallways."

"Provide trauma-informed equity centered practices, restorative practices," said Dr. Laura McArthur, a licensed clinical psychologist. "Look at mental health supports for students and the adults in the school. Anti-bias training for all of the adults in the schools and taking a stand against the gun lobby."

On May 1, DPS released a draft of its long-term operational safety plan. The draft proposal includes: 

  • A recommendation to allow middle and high schools to decide individually, each year, whether or not to have armed Denver Police Department officers in schools.
  • A discussion of weapons detection systems. 
  • Information on ongoing building safety audits. 
  • A section stressing that schools, not the district, should request safety protocols for incoming students. 

In 2020, the DPS board voted to remove school resource officers from schools by the end of the 2020-21 school year. After a shooting at Denver's East High School in March, DPS' superintendent and Board of Education reinstated School Resource Officers at 13 schools until June 30.

Some students and parents who spoke at Monday's meeting said school resource officers may unfairly target students who are Black, indigenous and people of color, and perpetuate violence in their schools.

The DPS school board will continue to gather feedback on the safety plan through the rest of the week and will release a second version of the safety plan May 26.

DPS Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero hopes to release the final plan on June 26 for the Board of Education to review.

SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Denver Public Schools district safety   

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