DENVER — Superintendent Tom Boasberg of Denver Public Schools announced Thursday a review internally and with Denver police over accusations of police harassment and intimidation during a search for a suspect at Rise Up Community School on April 24.
Parents, teachers and staffers at the downtown Denver charter school demanded the district launch the investigation.
The superintendent’s announcement during Thursday’s school board meeting comes as the Denver Department of Public Safety launches its own police internal affairs investigation.
Police searched the school of mostly minority students last month for a student wanted for attempted murder, according to a Wednesday police press release.
During the search, the school’s principal says a teacher was pushed by police and a staff member had guns drawn on her while leaving the school building near Broadway and Park Avenue West.
“It was traumatizing because I’ve had [negative] experiences with police before,” student Mary Jimenez said.
Another student, Tobias Torrez, said he feels like police are always out to get him.
The principal said he told officers the wanted student was not at school, but officers persisted to proceed with a search.
“I said the student is not here, and they said we’re not sure we believe you,” principal Lucas Ketzer said.
Police, however, say a school staffer said the student was at the school— leading to the search.
Students and staff describe an intimidating force of officers— treating students of color and school staff with disrespect by pushing one teacher who resisted the search and pointing guns at a staff member leaving the building.
“They were literally in everybody’s faces,” Jimenez said.
Denver police would not confirm or deny if a gun was pulled on a staffer outside the school and said nothing in response to the pushing allegation. An internal affairs investigation, overseen by a civilian independent monitor, is now underway.
Boasberg said, during the school board meeting, “What happened should not have happened.”
The student sought for attempted murder out of Lakewood was never found at the school that day. He has since been arrested, according to Lakewood police.