Tension shown in newly released video from Denver Public Schools board meeting following East High shooting

Board's vice president shared concerns about personal safety, walked out of meeting
screenshot from recording of DPS closed-door meeting
Posted at 5:35 PM, Jul 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-24 19:37:21-04

DENVER — Newly released video of a closed-door Denver Public Schools Board of Education meeting shows tension among board members and the superintendent in the wake of the March shooting at East High School.

The board voted to release the four-hour video on Friday, complying with a judge’s order.

Several heated moments were captured on the recording. As board members learned details of the shooting — which happened the day before — they discussed bringing back school resource officers (SROs).

“The community is clamoring for SROs, and we all know that’s not the answer,” said Board Member Dr. Carrie Olson.

Some members were concerned that then-Denver Mayor Michael Hancock would issue an executive order reinstating SROs.

“Our hands have been tied,” said Board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson.

The meeting grew heated several times. First, board members expressed frustration with Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero for publicly committing to reinstate SROs, even if it violated board policy.

“If I could be so bold to say, it’s a failure of leadership,” said Board Secretary Michelle Quattlebaum.

Board members then raised concerns about who would be blamed for the violence.

“I’m the one that’s being called a n*****, a Nazi and a murder,” Anderson said to Marrero.

Newly released video from Denver Public Schools board meeting shows tension in wake of East High shooting

Anderson told Marrero that the community was treating the superintendent like a “hero” because of his actions.

“The school board is the one being blamed for this! You made yourself the hero! Everybody is applauding you! Everybody is supporting you right now!” Anderson yelled at Marrero. “But f*** the rest of the seven board members!”

“I’m not concerned about being the savior or the hero. I’m not,” Marrero responded. “I’m not because I don’t think that will be the story when it’s all said and done.”

Anderson, who led efforts to have SROs removed from schools in 2020, said he feared for his personal safety.

“I don’t feel safe on this board anymore. And I think that there could be a possibility that someone is going to take out their misguided anger on me,” he said. “And the next thing we know, folks are going to say, ‘Oh he was a great young man,’ while people cry over my body at a funeral."
Anderson said he was considering resigning and left the meeting, only to return later to help the board craft a memo, which outlined actions the district would be taking.

In the memo, the board announced it would suspend the policy banning SROs and directed Marrero to develop a long-term safety plan.

The district tried to keep the video from the public, arguing it would cause injury to the public interest. Denver news outlets argued the district was not in compliance with Colorado’s opening meeting laws and filed a lawsuit. A judge sided with the news outlets, ordering the district to release the video.

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