DENVER — Hundreds of students poured out of East High School Monday morning during the first day of the Denver teachers strike.
The school sent a letter home to parents saying a large number of students walked out around 8:30 a.m.
Some students joined the teachers and supporters outside East High, which is along East Colfax Avenue near York Street. The statement from East High Principal John Youngquist sent to parents says that while a lot of students started classes at East High in the morning, by 8:30 a.m. a chunk had walked out and were not immediately welcomed back onto campus.
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"There were students who left the school who were not immediately allowed back in due to a concern about the large number of students not being supervised and in classes and in the hallways," the message reads. "Supervision was provided in front of the building, on the plaza, during this time."
All students are welcomed back into the school now so long as they "have represented an interest in being in their classes," the letter says.
East High School Senior Caitlin Kenney said she was planning on spending all day in school on Monday, but after she and her classmates were brought into an auditorium and given a packet with what she called "made-up" assignments, she ended up deciding to leave.
"The person in our classroom admitted she wasn't a certified sub," Kenney said.
She and her friend, fellow senior Grace McCabe, left and bought snacks to hand out on the picket line.
"A lot of people were saying it wasn't worth it to go to school today," McCabe said. "I think it's cool to see my teachers out here."
At lunchtime, the estimated 200 remaining students who stayed at East High School left. Many of them weren't anticipating coming back.
The Denver Classroom Teachers Association and the district have been in talks over the ProComp portion of their contract for the last 15 months. The ProComp deals with compensation, and the union has asked that the money DPS is offering go to teachers' base pay instead of incentive pay.
The latest round of talks between the district and the union broke down on Saturday after six hours of negotiating. DCTA and DPS could not agree on where the increased money for teachers should go. The next scheduled round of talks is set for Tuesday night.
Almost 3,000 of the district's 4,300 teachers are a part of DCTA. The district's 92,000 students are being taught by substitutes and administration staff brought in to help. At last check, 2,200 teachers walked off the job on Monday.
In an email to parents on Sunday, the district again gave parents some suggestions on how they might mitigate the trouble caused by the strike. Parents are asked to remember that DPS staff will be at each campus to make sure students are safe during the school day.
Students in grades Kindergarten through 12th Grade should attend school as normal, but pre-school classes are canceled; parents won't be charged tuition while ECE classes are out.
All DPS schools will provide normal services like meals, transportation and Discovery Link before and after school programs. Any parents interested in volunteering with their local school during the strike are asked to head to this link to apply.
There is also a Family Helpline set up for people to call. It’s open between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and the number is 720-423-3054.
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