DENVER (KDVR) — More than 6,000 signatures have been gathered as part of an effort to save principal Kurt Dennis’ job at McAuliffe International School in Park Hill.
Dennis was fired after speaking out about security concerns, his lawyer says. But the use of a seclusion room, which some whistleblower staff employees have called an “incarceration” room, has added to his controversial departure.
Those employees say the room was used to hold students, including Black students.
A petition started to save the principal’s job has exceeded the number of signatures it had intended to gather.
Eve Chen, who helped start that petition, has a daughter who will be starting school at McAuliffe next week. Chen said Dennis did a great job and claimed the seclusion room issue is being blown out of proportion.
“I (would) like the community to really focus on waiting for the facts to come out. A lot of it’s speculation, and there is no information released,” Chen said.
Mother thinks room was good for her son
Jessie Hawthorn also believes Dennis did an outstanding job. The room was a place her son spent a lot of time in at McAuliffe.
“He said the room had pillows, something to punch, something to yell into, and there was a therapy dog,” Hawthorn said.
Her son first started attending McAuliffe for sixth grade in 2018. She adopted him from Ethiopia.
After starting school there, he qualified for an individualized education program.
The use of the de-escalation room and integrating him into classes with other students worked, Hawthorn said.
“When he was here, it was the first time that I didn’t get called all the time to come to the school and pick him up. They were able to calm him down,” Hawthorn said.
Hawthorn said her son was never put in a seclusion room, a type of room that sparked controversy at McAuliffe.
The school’s principal, who had been fired for another issue, admitted to placing locks on the door, but they were taken off.
FOX31 reached out to Dennis’s attorney, who said Dennis would return to McAuliffe unless he gets another job. Read more on the statement released Tuesday by his attorney.
Meanwhile, Hawthorns said her son is doing great now and is a high school student in Aurora.