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DENVER (KDVR) — Denver Public Schools has announced that Dr. Alex Marrero will be the next superintendent after contract negotiations are complete, and one of his first priorities is to work on getting kids back in the classroom.  

“Every student deserves intellectual, social and emotional respect that’s been challenged more so than ever before this pandemic,” Marrero said.  

Marrero comes from the New Rochelle School District in New York where he served as the first Latinx head of the city’s school system.

“At the forefront of our search, we prioritized looking for someone understands at the root what it means to build relationships and connect to cultures even if they aren’t their own,” said DPS School Board Vice President Jennifer Bacon.

Marrero said he’ll address achievement gaps by making sure student and teacher’s voices are heard.

DPS has been plagued by a number of issues in recent years, including a teacher’s strike and budget cuts.  

Just last week, A Coalition of Education Advocates called for the selection process to restart.  

The group said the new superintendent needs deep knowledge about the ethnically diverse communities here.

“He was not the candidate that we were looking for. The candidates here in Denver are different than those in New York where Dr. Marrero came from. We were looking for a candidate that was able to identify with the Southwestern culture of our student population here in Denver,” said Auraria Historical Advocacy Council Member Milo Marquez.  

Still, the coalition Marquez belongs to says it will work with Marrero. 

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association today said it supported Marrero’s selection and it will work with the superintendent and the DPS School Board “to dismantle systematic racism within education as a whole.”

Marrero is the son of Cuban refugee and an immigrant from the Dominican Republic.  He has two children, and three languages are spoken in his home.

Marrero replaces Susana Cordova had been superintendent for two years and announced her resignation earlier this year.

The Board says Marrero’s background helped make him the strongest candidate to lead DPS. 

Marrero says he’ll also focus on inequities and disparities in the district.  

His biggest success said he comes from bringing communities together to achieve goals. 

The board is expected to approve his appointment June 3.