DENVER — Thirteen high schools in Denver had a police officer help them welcome back thousands of students returning from spring break this week.
Those officers, eight of which are trained school resource officers, will remain on campus until the end of the school year, which Denver Public Schools announced following the East High School shooting on March 22.
Several parents and DPS staff either reached out to Denver7 or posted on social media, asking how DPS decided which schools get an officer.
"I think that's what the biggest concern is for some of the parents here," Jamie, a DPS parent, told Denver7 Thursday.
Jamie's son attends Career Education Center Early College, a DPS high school, which was not on the list of high schools assigned an officer.
Stacey Hervey, an employee at CEC, commented on a Denver7 social media post saying "Unfortunately not all high schools included ... wonder how the list was decided."
So Denver7 followed up with DPS.
We asked, "How did DPS decide which 13 schools SROs will be reinstated at?"
DPS spokesman Scott Pribble said in part "the decision about which high schools were provided SROs was based on the size of the student body."
At first glance, this seemed a bit confusing to Jamie, considering that Manual High School, which was assigned an officer, only has about 320 students.
"There's over 400 kids at this school," Jamie said, referencing CEC. "It doesn't make any sense."
There are also several other DPS high schools with more students than Manual.
"With the exception of Northfield, all of the schools in which SROs returned this week had previously had SROs in them," Pribble said in response. "That original decision was based on the student population. Northfield was added due to their student numbers as well."
After some follow-up questions, Pribble revealed that the officer at Manual will also serve students at Bruce Randolph School, which is two miles away.
While the March 23, 2023 DPS Board of Education memorandum directed Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero to work with elected officials to "externally fund as many as two Armed Police Officers ... at all high schools for the remainder of the 2022-23 school year," Marrero was only able to commit to providing officers to "comprehensive" high schools.
DPS says a comprehensive high school "is a school that does not have a specific focus such as the arts, or STEM."
Denver7 asked why comprehensive high schools were chosen over other schools and if there was any difference in safety that determined that decision. DPS did not respond.
Denver7 also asked DPD if the department's current staffing challenges impacted how many officers they are able to provide DPS.
DPD did not directly answer the question, but offered a statement saying in part "Thirteen high schools in Denver had a police officer help them welcome back thousands of students returning from Spring Break this week."
The statement also said "an officer in each of the six DPD Districts is assigned as a liaison to the middle and high schools in their respective districts. The liaisons act as a point of contact and resource to discuss safety concerns for school leaders who do not have an assigned SRO at their school. This liaison program was started at the direction of Chief Thomas following the fatal shooting of Luis Garcia near the East High School campus on February 13th."