DENVER (KDVR) — The co-founder of a Denver school has been banned from Denver Public Schools property and dismissed from coaching youth football, effective immediately. On Wednesday afternoon, supporters of Brandon Pryor marched to the district’s central office demanding the ban be revoked.

Pryor garnered attention in 2019 when his 7-year-old son was handcuffed at a Denver public school. The incident sparked a change to handcuff policies across the district and further fueled Pryor’s advocacy in fighting for racial equity for Black students inside DPS.

“Because I do so, folks feel threatened and attacked by the truth,” Pryor said.

The father has been an outspoken advocate, volunteer football coach and co-founder of the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy. It’s a first-of-its-kind district school that’s modeled after an HBCU — a historically black college and university — with the goal of creating a safe space for students.

FOX31 interviewed Pryor in April about the academy, and he knew each student’s name and took the time to speak to every student that he crossed in the hallway. Fast forward to October and Pryor is now forced to read supportive text messages from afar after being banned from DPS property last week and dismissed from coaching.

“It’s completely defaming and it’s retaliation and they’re trying to silence me with this ban,” Pryor shared.

DPS security delivers 8-page later

According to the district, they’ve received complaints about Pryor and began investigating. On Oct. 18, Pryor said an 8-page letter was delivered to his home by DPS security.

“They could have emailed me or called me,” Pryor said. “To send armed officers to my home, with my neighbors, it’s a way to make me appear to be a criminal.”

The letter states that Pryor’s repeated behavior has the intent to intimidate, harass, bully and threaten district employees.

“I’ve never made threats. I haven’t bullied anybody, harassed or attacked. What I say is within my First Amendment free speech rights,” Pryor explained.

Along with the letter, the district also attached supporting materials including social media posts that called for certain administrators to be fired, heated online conversations, quotes of phone calls where Pryor is accused of cursing and yelling at employees, and video with no audio that shows Pryor at an October board meeting.

DPS Superintendent Alex Marrero weighed in on the ban on Wednesday.

“I have a duty to make sure that everybody who is a professional, is a professional, who is working with students. I also have a duty to protect our employees and if our employees feel that they’re not being supported or valued, then as an employer I have a duty to respond,” Marrero told FOX31.

Students stage walkout in protest

Despite the district’s opinion, that’s not how some community members and students feel. On Monday, supporters marched to the office in solidarity chanting “lift the ban,” and on Friday, students at the STEAM Academy staged a walk-out with speeches, chanting “bring back Pryor.”

One of the text messages Pryor read to FOX31 from a student read in part, “It’s unfortunate and wrong what they are doing to you.”

Pryor shared that recently he’s been pushing the district to improve conditions at the academy, revealing that there’s no kitchen, auditorium or library for their scholars. He deems that unacceptable and the reason for the district’s “egregious” actions against him.

FOX31 asked Marrero on Wednesday about the lack of a kitchen at the academy, and he said it’s not the only specialty school without a kitchen. There are 38 schools in the district, which isn’t ideal, but they do all get hot meals delivered and he’s hoping consolidating schools can help improve the problem.

“Our kids are suffering,” Pryor said. “I love them with all of my heart. I’d walk out of this room and lay down my life for every one of them.”

Pryor has 30 days from the date the letter was issued to appeal DPS’s decision. He told FOX31 his attorney is preparing a demand letter to rescind the ban and if not, he’s preparing to take legal action.