DENVER (KDVR) — On Tuesday, former McAuliffe International School principal Kurt Dennis filed a lawsuit against Denver Public Schools for wrongful termination.
Earlier this year, Dennis believed he was originally fired for sharing confidential student information in a news interview after two deans were shot at East High School.
Dennis said he and his staff were forced to conduct the exact same pat-down policy with a student who was charged with similar firearm-related offenses as the student in the East High incident.
According to the lawsuit, the student at McAuliffe was criminally charged with attempted murder after the student allegedly entered a liquor store to rob it and shot the clerk. Following this charge, Dennis requested the student move to remote learning.
However, the suit claims Dennis’ request was denied. Dennis claimed he exercised his right to free speech by shining a light on the danger DPS was imposing on the McAuliffe community and decided to speak with the media.
DPS said his termination was in relation to the seclusion rooms, but the lawsuit claims that his termination was retaliation for his First Amendment-protected speech.
“The actual reason they fired him is because he went public and criticized DPS Policy about allowing violent children back into the schools before their charges pending are resolved,” Dennis’ attorney David Lane said.
The suit claims Dennis was fired for publicly criticizing the school district in the media.
“They smeared him (Kurt Dennis) by calling him a proponent of white supremacy and racism. Part of our lawsuit involves the fact that they never allowed him any forum to clear his name publicly,” Dennis’ attorney David Lane said.
Dennis is requesting a jury trial and is seeking compensation.
“I am grateful that Mr. Dennis has chosen to take the District to Federal Court because I believe that this is an opportunity for us to have the full truth come out and the case of seclusion rooms I believe that it is pertinent for our broader community to understand what happened from the lens of those who were directly impacted,” Denver Public Schools Board of Education Vice President Auon’tai Anderson said.
A spokesman for the school district released a statement.
“Denver Public Schools has not been served with any complaint and therefore cannot comment on any specifics until it has been received and reviewed by our legal team. The allegations made in any complaint are not facts. We believe the preponderance of the evidence, some of which has already been released, will support our case and we look forward to responding fully in court,” the statement reads.
Dennis’ attorney said would like monetary damages and even get his job back possibly under a different school board.
The federal trial process, he said, could take a couple of years or more.