DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver Public Schools parent group is demanding that three district administrators be removed after a student charged with attempted murder showed up to enroll at Thomas Jefferson High School.
A DPS spokesperson told FOX31 there are no plans to remove the administrators from the discipline committee, which decided not to expel a student accused of a gun crime just off the East High School campus.
The Parents Safety Advocacy Group, or P-SAG, sent Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero and district leaders an email expressing outrage over FOX31‘s exclusive investigation into discipline over gun crimes in Denver Public Schools.
The Problem Solvers first reported Tuesday that a 16-year-old student wanted for attempted murder in Adams County and another gun crime in Denver caused a lockdown at Thomas Jefferson High School when he showed up there to enroll on Aug. 25.
Gun case near East High before robbery and shooting
P-SAG parents expressed frustration that the teen had not already been expelled for his April arrest in Denver, where sources told the Problem Solvers the boy was charged as a juvenile with felony menacing after he allegedly pointed a gun at a fellow East High School student just off campus.
“Any student charged with crimes that include a firearm or rape must be qualified as eligible for expulsion,” P-SAG member Colleen Callaway Eager said.
Sources say the administrators overruled East High School’s suggestion that he be expelled. As a result, P-SAG is calling for three administrators to be removed from dictating safety policy.
The P-SAG email to Marrero read, in part: “The decision was made to recode the conduct as type 4, reflecting a philosophical approach that, in our view, failed (the 16-year old) and underscores the ongoing inadequacies of your discipline policy.”
The parents believe the boy’s conduct should have been considered a type 5 violation under the so-called discipline matrix, which would have been more likely to lead to the student’s expulsion.
“This idea that we recode conduct so that a student is not expelled, all parents should be able to ask: Who recodes conduct? Were the teachers and staff closest to the student and closest to this issue consulted in the recoding of that conduct?” Callaway Eagar said.
Marrero has not spoken in response to the parent group’s demands. A district spokesperson told FOX31 a statement will be provided Thursday night.
Confidence ‘eroded’ in DPS policy, parents say
Parents in Callaway Eagar’s 1,400-member group want the three administrators, who they hold responsible for a discipline matrix they consider too lenient, to be removed from discipline discussions, according to Callaway Eagar.
P-SAG’s email to district leaders reads, in part: “P-SAG’s confidence in your decision-making has eroded, and we firmly believe that change is imperative, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Three years with the philosophical Discipline Matrix of 2020 is more than enough. The architects of this policy cannot rectify the current situation. Your approach did not benefit (the 16-year-old), his brother, fellow gang members, classmates at East, or the victim in Adams County.”
The 16-year-old was charged as an adult in Adams County for a July robbery and shooting that left a 23-year-old man paralyzed from the waist down and brain-damaged after he was shot in the eye and in his spine.
In addition to removing the three administrators — who FOX31 is not identifying — P-SAG wants the superintendent to change the policy so that students charged with rape or gun possession be hit with mandatory, yearlong suspensions.
“A firearm is a firearm, on campus or off campus,” Callaway Eager said.
Currently, the district’s discipline matrix only mandates an automatic expulsion hearing for gun crimes committed on school grounds.
FOX31’s Shaul Turner spoke with the Rev. Leon Kelly, community activist and founder of the Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives Program. Kelly said DPS has a responsibility that extends to every student.
“It’s easy to just wash your hands and say we’re done. You commit a gun crime out here, we don’t want to deal with you, we don’t want you in our school, we don’t want you in our district. Then OK, what are your options? What options are we giving these kids? We are still responsible for them,” Kelly said.