DENVER – A group of Denver Public Schools parents and students held a march and rally Wednesday to protest the district's decision to ban the Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy co-founder from school properties.
The demonstration started on Welton Street in the Five Points neighborhood and ended in front of DPS headquarters on Lincoln Street.
“I’ve always felt like if we take care of the needs of our most vulnerable, we can meet the needs of everybody. But they’re not doing that. They’re celebrating the ones that don’t need that extra help and crucifying the ones that do need the help. And we’re not being there for them the way that we need to,” said Gene Fashaw, an educator in the Denver-metro area who organized the protest.
Fashaw said he organized the protest after learning DPS leaders banned Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy co-founder Brandon Pryor from school properties. But the protest was about more than Pryor, Fashaw said.
Demonstrators also cited the district’s recent decisions to close 10 elementary and middle schools as part of a consolidation effort and copyright the “Know Justice, Know Peace” podcast, which was started by a group of Black students, as examples of systemic inequities within DPS.
“I’m tired of DPS violating our rights as Black and brown students,” said Aivory Pearson, Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy sophomore. “I need them to start acting rationally … we are the future. We are your future doctors and superintendents.”
Fashaw said the demonstrations will continue until parents and students feel equity issues have been adequately addressed.