DENVER (KDVR) — After two staff members at Denver East High School were shot by a student Wednesday morning, the Denver Classroom Teachers Association and the Colorado Education Association are calling for action.
The Denver Police Department identified the suspect as 17-year-old Austin Lyle, who is a student at the school and was under a safety plan to be patted down each day before entering the school.
Questions on safety at the school and the choice to no longer have student resource officers at the school have come into question.
“Today’s act of gun violence marks the second school shooting at East High School just this year. It is unacceptable that our students and educators are forced to work in environments where we fundamentally cannot ensure their safety from gun violence,” Rob Gould, special education teacher and president of the DCTA, said.
Several local and state lawmakers have urged for an increase in safety measures at the school and the districts around the state.
“This is not just an East High problem, this is not just a Denver problem. This is a Colorado problem and a national problem. But certain legislators refuse to listen to our students, our educators, and our communities, and instead listen to powerful and well-funded gun lobby groups,” Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association said.
The issue of gun violence, not just in schools but around the country as a whole, has been a battle in legislation at the Colorado Capitol. Several bills to tighten restrictions by upping the age to purchase a firearm and other measures are on the floor this session. The DCTA and the CEA said they are in support of most of these bills.
“As educators we fear the possibility of violence every day. Why do our students feel so unsafe outside of the classroom that they feel like they need to be carrying a gun?” Gould said. “Our leaders need to ask these same questions, and to listen to the educators and students who deal with this every day. This status quo is as unacceptable as it is preventable. If all of our elected leaders would truly lead and implement the legislation we need to keep us all safe, teachers could focus on teaching and students could focus on learning, free of the fear and trauma that’s become synonymous with our schools.”
Another student at East High was shot just over a month ago and later died.
Gun violence at the school has been an issue and after this shooting, safety at the school is at the forefront for the city and the school district, local leaders said.
Wednesday afternoon, Marrero sent a letter to the school board informing them that he would be adding an armed officer at each of Denver’s comprehensive high schools. The board responded by saying it supports this decision.