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Dozens rally to save American Indian Academy of Denver

“I don't know where I'm going to be without the school”
Dozens rally to save American Indian Academy of Denver
Posted at 10:45 PM, Nov 29, 2022

DENVER — In below freezing temperatures Tuesday evening, dozens gathered outside of the American Indian Academy of Denver to try and save their school.

The school opened in 2020, starting their lessons remotely. After the return to in-person learning, those with the American Indian Academy of Denver said they lost teachers and students.

“It's not just for Indigenous students. It's for all students,” said Mark de la Cruz-Chavez, the dean of students. “There's engagement with their learning. It's not just sitting there reading a book or listening to the teacher talk. They're actually in there getting their fingers dirty, being a part of that learning.”

Denver7 was told there are currently 134 students enrolled at the charter school. Denver Public Schools projected there should be 152 students enrolled. Those with the school said because of the low enrollment and other expenses, they are losing necessary funding.

“You have to meet projections, you have to cover your expenses. And if we don't have those numbers, then it's hard to cover those expenses,” de la Cruz-Chavez explained. “Since we're short on meeting those numbers, then to DPS, it's a burden.”

READ MORE: Denver's American Indian Academy in danger of closing

An article from Chalkbeat Colorado reports the situation is so serious, the district is considering revoking the charter status from the school.

Those with DPS sent the following statement to Denver7:

“DPS superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero has not seen a presentation suggesting the possible closure of the American Indian Academy of Denver. Additionally, the topic is not on the agenda for the DPS Board of Education for any upcoming meetings. Any decisions about the future of the school will be made by the AIAD board.”

When those with the school read the district’s response, they were perplexed.

“It's another lie that's toward a population that has been lied to for generations,” de la Cruz-Chavez said. “It's another broken promise. It's another lie. And it's happening in the shadows, so that nobody hears about it.”

Still, he said the school will continue fighting for their students. Many told Denver7 this is the first time they have learned about Indigenous culture.

“They don't know what's best for our students. We know what's best for our students, our students know what's best for our students,” said de la Cruz-Chavez. “I'm not going to give up on them, and our school’s not going to give up on them. And I hope DPS doesn't give up on them.”