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Supporters of long-time teacher accused of bullying student speak to school board

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DENVER -- A show of support Thursday night at a Denver School Board meeting for a teacher whose job is on the line after accusations of bullying a child.

We first told you about the issue in June. A mother was at her wit’s end about what happened at her 14-year-old son’s 8th grade continuation ceremony at Grant Ranch School.

More than a year later, one word written on that 14-year-old's continuation certificate could cost Liz Peel, an 18-year veteran teacher, her job.

Peel is accused of scratching out “completed” and writing in “attended” on the certificate of the the student, who is also dyslexic.

The employment of Peel, was not on the board’s agenda Thursday. But that didn’t stop her supporters and critics from showing up to speak their minds, especially since the superintendent is recommending Peel be terminated.

“These teachers, I think, need to watch themselves sometimes, because they could hurt people’s feelings,” said Arias Romero, 14, the student whose certificate was defaced.

Romero’s mom, Desiree Conklin, says Peel and other teachers didn't feel her son earned the privilege of attending the continuation ceremony.

She says teachers even asked if they could change the certificates. The principal told them no, but it happened anyway.

The school district released this statement:

“We are greatly concerned by the events at the Grant Ranch continuation ceremony. Several students and their families were deeply hurt that their continuation certificates were crudely altered in direct contravention of the school principal’s clear direction, and they were treated disrespectfully at a public ceremony intended to highlight and celebrate the students.”

Some of Peel’s supporters asked for mercy of the board that holds her future in their hands.

“Principals told 8th grade teachers to sign documents that a student met requirements of 8th grade," parent Niki Mitchell said. "They were told to lie on documents. Clearly, this is unethical. Yet, Peel has been fired."

“Now the Grant Ranch administration has betrayed its teachers and bent over backward for a parent and student that don’t fully deserve it," former student Victoria Pumilio said. "The administration is willing to throw an amazing teacher under the bus."

But Conklin isn't backing down. In fact, she said she plans to further her efforts.

She told the board her fight now is not just with Peel, but with the mindset she says some educators have about students with special needs.

“I am not stopping here," Conklin said. "I will fight this fight for my son and all children who struggle academically until there is a change because he deserves that."

Peel is on administrative leave until a decision is made on her future with the district.

An administrative judge is reviewing the facts of the case. That judge will then make a recommendation to the board.

Only the board can fire Peel. But the board is not bound by the judge’s recommendation.

A decision could take months.


  • former student

    She got the word out about education in general. The meeting was about Peel though and she wasnt even addressed!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I’m not saying kids can’t be horrible because I know they can. I don’t know all the circumstances involved but I’m pretty sure that the school goes to the parent and notifies them that their child needs to be held back, but then it is the decision of the parent to do so. They can say no and have in the past, then the kids were not allowed to participate. I’m guessing that this parent not only said no but also complained when told her child could not participate. The school should not have then put it on the teachers. Did the kid fail because of grades or discipline? This school has been a complete mess for many years. The top bullies are the Administration, I would not be surprised at all if the Administration bullied the teachers into passing the students. I know of several cases in which the school board was contacted regarding staff. What’s the solution? Tell the parents what they want to hear and sweep in under the rug. The saving grace of the school is that their are many great teachers. The downfall of the school is that their are also bad ones, however, those ones are usually saved because they are friends or family of the Administration. Many great teachers have left because of the issues. There is no consistency is regards to punishment or discipline. If the parents are friends of the Adminstration then no puishment is handed out, yet vice versa if they are not. The Administration is quick to pass judgement and do their own investigation. They have bypassed their own policies yet are never held accountable because by the time the parent finds out the time allotted to file an appeal or complaint has passed.

    • Anonymous

      Wow what a mess Grant Ranch seems to be under the current administration! Maybe the school board should look at them and not at a decorated teacher such as Liz Peel. I am sure glad my children are out of there now!!

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