DENVER (KDVR) — A father banned from Denver Public School property months ago is now allowed to step on school grounds again, but the district is fighting the decision. A judge has lifted the ban against Brandon Pryor, co-founder of a Denver school, who has spent years advocating for racial justice.
The ban was enacted by the district in October 2022. FOX31 sat down with Pryor just days after he abruptly found out he could no longer set foot on school property or coach football.
“It’s retaliation and they’re trying to silence me,” Pryor said in October.
But on Monday, he expressed a different sentiment.
“I feel really good,” Pryor said. “I feel like we’re starting to see justice unfold in real time.”
Pryor co-founded the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy, a first-of-its-kind district school modeled after historically Black colleges and universities, creating a safe space for students of color.
Pryor’s ban started an uproar in the community as some kids and parents wanted him back in the hallways and on the field. As of last week, that’s where they can find him once again.
“It brought joy to my heart and smiles to my face to see the kids kind of rush to greet me,” Pryor recalled. “Some of them were in shock and kind of surprised.”
Pryor received an 8-page letter from the district notifying him of the ban and dismissing him from coaching football, effective immediately. The letter stated Pryor’s behavior had the intent to intimidate, harass, bully and threaten district employees including a social media post calling for administrators to be fired.
The ban prompted Pryor to push back, and he filed a federal lawsuit claiming retaliatory actions and violation of freedom of speech. After going through the legal process, a judge ordered last week that the district rescind the ban immediately.
“It speaks to the culture of retaliation and discrimination, racism that exists inside the district and it’s a shame,” said Pryor.
A culture that the judge acknowledged in his findings which stated, “Denver Public Schools has a long history of systemic racism and discrimination.”
Pryor said he has returned to doing everything he was doing before the ban was enacted. However, he is not shying away from the toll the ban has taken on him. Pryor said he was defamed and the stress has weighed on his health.
“It’s definitely taken a toll on me personally,” Pryor said. “In the middle of the court hearing, I had a heart attack and was in the hospital for days.”
Through the health and legal challenges, Pryor said he’s determined now more than ever to fight for equity.
“If you fight, you win. Always stand up for what you believe in,” Pryor said.
FOX31 reached out to DPS for comment on the ban being lifted. Officials said they have filed an appeal on the ruling and will not comment any further.