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DPS students walk out to bring attention to counselor shortage

Some students from Collegiate Prep Academy in NE Denver held a walkout this morning. They said they're missing their deadlines to register for the ACT and SAT because of a lack of counselors.

DENVER — Some students from Collegiate Prep Academy walked out of their classrooms Friday to bring attention to the school's lack of counselors.

“We’re not able to sign up for the SAT now,” said senior DaChaun Davis, “We have one coming up in November and another one in December, and we’re not able to get the free waivers because we don’t have our counselors.”

CPA is part of Denver Public Schools, and students said they haven’t had school counselors since the beginning of the school year -- now they’re missing deadlines to register for the ACT and SAT.

"We were supposed to sign up Wednesday this week,” said senior Kahaaliq Stevenson. “[Counselors] aren't here to give us the free waiver to sign up for it, so all the people that were willing and trying to take the SAT just recently couldn’t take it because they weren’t here.”

In a statement, DPS said students have been receiving college access support in their advisory groups.

“Collegiate Prep Academy (CPA) has experienced turnover on their counseling team this year, and is in the process of hiring new staff," the statement says. "We understand this turnover can be frustrating to students, and result in feelings of being disconnected from opportunities. We’re fully committed as a school district to support CPA in meeting the counseling needs of our students.

During this time, students have been receiving college access support in their advisory groups specific to college preparedness and grade level needs. The school’s dean has been working to address students’ needs, and a member of the Denver Scholarship Foundation meets with college-bound students weekly."

But some students said they feel they need counselors to fill that role instead.

“We really need counselors to explore post-secondary options and resources to help us go further,” said senior Tian Land. “We can’t wait for counselors because deadlines are not waiting for us.”

Jen Bacon, the district’s representative on the Denver Public Schools board, said there’s not just a teacher shortage in the district, but a counselor shortage as well.

“It’s not about, ‘we hate DPS,'" Bacon said. "We’ve got a lot of people that are dedicated, but for us it’s about a shift of focus…there’s always things that are immediate, but if we’re going to talk about college and career readiness and students first, then we’ve got to shift some priorities."

Bacon said the students want to make sure their voices are heard and that they are thinking about what’s next for them after high school.

“We have to fight for what we deserve,” Stevenson said. "We know what we deserve and we’re going to keep fighting until we get what we deserve.”

DPS said that CPA has interviewed over 15 candidates for this position (with students in the interview process) and "have moved to hire one candidate."

"She is moving through the HR process now," DPS said.