Racial slurs, foul language reportedly yelled at students on field trip to Denver Public Library

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DENVER -- Denver Public Schools and Denver police are investigating reports involving students being harassed on a field trip to the Denver Public Library.

Sixth graders from Skinner Middle School in northwest Denver were visiting the library Thursday when students say a group of homeless people near the entrance began swearing at them, using racial slurs and using inappropriate hand gestures. At one point, multiple students say a handgun fell off a man's lap and onto the ground near the students.

"I just want to forget about it because I want everything to be fun again," said Aaliyah Patrick.

Patrick says her classmates had just finished touring a nearby museum and were walking into the library when the incident occurred.

"He was being really mean," she said. "Why would you be yelling that at kids? Even adults, why would you be yelling that at them?"

Patrick's mom Shannon says she found out what happened when her daughter got home, hours after the incident.

"I was pretty mad about it," she said. "Because I had not heard anything whatsoever from the school. Why was I not contacted right away?"

A spokesperson for Denver Public Schools sent the following to FOX31:

"We think that the leaders there did a great job of communicating this incident to families. We are confident that school leaders will make decisions that they feel are appropriate for their students, educators and community going forward."

The school sent the following letter to parents Thursday night, confirming nobody was injured.

Dear Skinner Middle School Families,

We are committed to letting you know about incidents that affect Skinner Middle School and the community. Earlier today, members of our sixth grade class went on a field trip to the Denver Public Library in downtown. Students shared with us that, while there, a number of people experiencing homelessness had some inappropriate interactions with our students. Students reported to us that some of these individuals used racist language, used foul language and made inappropriate hand gestures towards our students. Students also reported that a man in a wheelchair dropped a handgun off his lap onto the ground. Our team has reported this to the Denver Police Department and the families of the children who were witness to this event. In addition to writing this letter to you to make you aware of these unfortunate actions, I want to also quell some of the rumors that are beginning to circulate throughout our school. Please know that none of our students reported that the man in the wheelchair “pulled a gun” on our students. Again, students reported to us, and we reported to DPD, that the man dropped a handgun off his lap onto the ground. Police are investigating all of these claims. We are proud of our students for handling this inappropriate situation so well. Because our students immediately reported these events, we were able to ensure safety for all. As always, we want to remind students, “If you see something, say something.” Our students did just that. My team and I are doing what we can to support our students, educators and family members who are having to deal with these unfortunate circumstances. We will continue to support them as needed. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Grant Varveris

Principal

It's unclear whether any arrests were made by Denver police.

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