DENVER (KDVR) — The parent of a Denver Public Schools student founded a group to support and elevate the voices of the Spanish-speaking community.

Her name is Mandy Hennessey and she founded Mamas de DPS Peliando Poe las Escuelas Publicas. Her main concern is that Spanish-speaking students are not receiving the language support services they are required to receive under the Modified Consent Decree. 

The decree basically spells out how English language learners in Denver Public Schools are taught.

Hennessey said that Transitional Native Language Instruction teachers, who are specialized teachers, are being let go, and then DPS is hiring non-licensed language teachers for the next school year. Hennessey said that is problematic.

Kathy Escamilla, who is with the Congress for Hispanic Educators, said issues like the housing crisis, gentrification, and the fact that DPS is considering closing several elementary schools due to lack of enrollment is not only troubling but a red flag for permanent school closures.

Denver Public Schools sent the following statement to FOX31:

“Denver Public Schools is committed to providing high-quality bilingual programming for our students, including by meeting the Consent Decree requirements for Transitional Native Language Instruction, or TNLI. Providing bilingual education leads to better student outcomes and affirms the cultural and linguistic identities of our students.

“The Consent Decree requires schools to provide TNLI programming when they serve a certain number of Spanish-speaking students. When the number of students is below that threshold, such as at Colfax Elementary, DPS remains committed to providing Spanish-language instruction and support through a more flexible bilingual model that may look different than in a full bilingual program. With small numbers of Spanish-speaking students per grade level, Spanish instruction may happen in small groups, may combine students across grade levels, and may be provided by the students’ classroom teacher and/or by a dedicated bilingual resource teacher.

“Colfax Elementary is among a group of schools that are projected to fall below the Consent Decree threshold in the 22-23 school year. Nonetheless, these schools will remain bilingual program schools through that school year, and DPS is dedicated to providing students with bilingual support and instruction.”