The Denver Public School Board voted on Friday to release the video recording of a closed door meeting that was held the day following the shooting at East High School in March.
The vote comes after a judge in June ordered the release of the 5-hours-long executive session after Denver media outlets sued DPS alleging the public was not given the required notice defying Colorado’s open meeting laws. Friday's vote comes despite a lack of resolution to the DPS board's appeal. The board appealed days after the judge's June 23, arguing that the contents of the meeting shouldn't be made public, according to The Denver Post.
Colorado law requires any policy decisions must happen in public, Chalkbeat Colorado reported.
At the March 23 meeting, the DPS board voted 7-0 to allow police officers back into Denver high schools following the East High School shooting in which a 17-year-old student suspect shot and injured two deans.
The vote was a change in policy that came with no public discussion, something that a group of parents voiced concern to Denver7 back in March.DPS said in June it would appeal the judge’s ruling.
While the board can meet in executive session to discuss sensitive material such as contact negotiations, lawsuits and personnel matter, Colorado’s open meeting laws state topics to be discussed behind closed doors must be listed in a public agenda.
The public agenda for the March board meeting stated:
Executive Session for the purpose of discussions regarding matters required to be kept confidential by federal or state law or rules and regulations as a result of the incident that occurred on March 22, 2023, as authorized by C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4)(c), Discussion of specialized details of security arrangements or investigations as a result of the incident that occurred on March 22, 2023, as authorized by C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4)(d), and Discussion of individual students where public disclosure would adversely affect that person or persons involved as a result of the incident that occurred March 22, 2023, due to incidents that happened at our schools as authorized by C.R.S. § 24-6-402(4) (h).
Denver7 is working to obtain the recording of the 5-hour executive session, but Denver Public Schools Board Vice President Auon'tai Anderson, who has urged the release of the recording, shared highlights of what he says happened during the March meeting.
He spoke to the press Friday after the board voted to release the footage.
“I’m grateful the board of education has decided to act in the spirit of transparency and release this footage – the footage that should have been released on March 23, 2023,” said Anderson. “Footage where you will see board members are very passionate about this topic. You will also see what I have been saying for months about a looming executive order that was threatened to be used from the former mayor of Denver, Michael B. Hancock against the Denver Public Schools."
Anderson said in the executive session, DPS superintendent Alex Marrerro told the board the decision to reinstate SROs was "pretty much out of the board of education's hands."
He suggested the timing of the release could coincide with the exit of former mayor Hancock.
East High parents demand more transparency from school board in wake of shooting
Back in March, the DPS board released a statement endorsing the decision to reinstate SROs.
"The Board of Education supports the decision of Superintendent Marrero to work in partnership with local law enforcement to create safer learning spaces across Denver Public Schools for the remainder of this school year," the statement reads. "In addition, we will continue to work collaboratively with our community partners including law enforcement and our local & state legislature to make our community safer."
In a statement that same day, former mayor Hancock also praised the return of armed officers.
“Following the shootings at East High School today, Denver Public Schools Superintendent Alex Marrero and I jointly agree that the safety of students and the public require deployment of police officers assigned to the high school for the remainder of the school year. I encouraged and strongly support the Superintendent’s decision to bring police officers back to DPS high schools, and I’ve directed Chief Thomas to support this effort and deploy our officers accordingly in coordination with the school district," Hancock said.
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