Denver Public Schools releases second draft of its long-term safety plan

Updates to the second draft school safety plan include adjusted plans for school resource officers, weapon detection systems and student disciplinary protocols.
Posted at 8:51 PM, May 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-27 00:19:12-04

DENVER — Denver Public Schools released the second draft of its district-wide safety plan Friday.

The effort was launched after a string of violent shootings at East High School, including one that killed a student, Luis Garcia, earlier this year.

"There's a lot of passion in our community about keeping our kids safe," said Scott Pribble, director of external communications for DPS, of the public input received over the last several weeks since the first draft was released.

Denver Public Schools

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First draft of DPS safety plan addresses SROs, weapons detection tech

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4:57 PM, May 01, 2023

Similar to the first draft, the second draft covers various staff and student safety issues, such as bullying, mental health resources and security.

There are three significant changes between drafts. The first involves school resource officers (SROs).

"Version 1.0 said that the board would make the overall decision, but then it would be up to each principal to decide — if the board allowed that to happen — to have SROs in the building. In this version, the board will make the overarching decision for the entire district for comprehensive high schools and grades 6-12," said Pribble.

The DPS Board of Education suspended the use of SROs in 2020, but after a recent string of shootings in the district, brought officers back for the remainder of this school year.

"I think that [the board does] understand that there is a large section of the community that would like to have SROs back, while also understanding that there's some members of our community that do not want SROs back. It's finding that that balance," said Pribble.

The current draft would allow individual schools to decide if they want permanent weapon detection systems for their buildings.

The district currently has four mobile systems that are used at athletic games and other events when requested by administrations. The systems can range from a metal detector to equipment that identifies cylindrical objects, like a gun, inside of bags.

"If the the families and the staff want this, then that's something that the principal can implement. If not, then the principal can choose not to. It's just another way to listen to the community through some pretty serious and rigorous engagement," said Pribble.

Another significant adjustment to the second draft is the district's student disciplinary plan.

Leaders in DPS recently attended Harvard University's Public Education Leadership Conference. The draft proposes officials work with other public school leaders in that network to create a new disciplinary program for DPS.

"We can reach out to those school districts that are similar shape and size to ours, and find out what they're doing for their discipline. Make sure that we're listening to best practices, but also understanding that we do have to follow federal and state laws, and also make sure that we are using our equity guidance that we have," Pribble said.

The Superintendent Advisory Council will be discussing the draft plan at their meeting on June 15. DPS is collecting public comment through this online survey and other community input forums yet to be announced.

The final long-term safety plan is expected to be released on June 23, with a Board of Education review anticipated on June 30.

Click here to read the second draft in its entirety.

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