DENVER — Just days after an East High School student shot two of that school’s administrators during a daily “pat down,” the principal of Denver's largest middle school tells 9NEWS his school must also perform daily pat downs on a student charged with, among other things, attempted first-degree murder and illegal discharge of a firearm.
McAuliffe International School’s Principal Kurt Dennis also said he believes it’s not just his school that’s received increased pressure from the district to accommodate potentially dangerous students.
“I think it’s important that people know, and I think it’s important that parents know. I think it’s important that school leaders speak out and say, 'This is not OK and needs to stop,'” Dennis said.
His decision to go public will undoubtedly focus even more attention on Denver Public Schools' (DPS) policy when it comes to placing high-risk students inside middle and high school classrooms.
“When I saw what happened at East, I recognized the similarities, and it really hit a nerve,” Dennis said. “And I know this is happening beyond McAuliffe International School.” 9NEWS has obtained documents that back up that claim, but for now, we are choosing not to release the documents out of privacy and safety concerns.
On Wednesday, a student that had been expelled from the Cherry Creek School District shot and wounded Jerald Mason and Eric Sinclair. Both were performing a daily pat down of Austin Lyle, 17, as part of a district safety plan. That day, DPS Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero said it was “a result of previous behavior.”
More than 800 students who could be a danger to themselves or others have gone through threat assessments this school year.
Dennis said he instantly thought of his own case at his Park Hill school.
Dennis would not identify the student at McAuliffe and 9NEWS has decided not to reveal any specific information about the student other than to say Denver Police believe he was involved in an attempted murder earlier this year.
Shortly after learning about the crime, Dennis said he and his staff attempted to convince DPS to let the student perform online classes.
That request was denied by the district.
He then asked the district to expel the student.
That request was also denied.
In a document obtained by 9NEWS, the Student Discipline Program Manager said, “As there is no evidence that [the student] was in possession of a firearm on his school grounds or at any other DPS school, the request for an extended suspension and expulsion hearing is denied. Please return the student to school.”
And so, for the last few weeks, Dennis and his staff have been performing the same “safety measures” Lyle faced at East.
Daily pat downs he says he and his staff have never been trained to do.
“Are you mad?” I asked.
“Yes. Frustrated,” he said.
“I recognize that every kid deserves an education, regardless of their state in the legal system, that kid deserves a free public education, but there is more than one way to do that,” Dennis said.
To let us know what’s going on in your school please email us at email@example.com.
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