Apr 11, 2022 - News

Denver school closing process mired in controversy

 An empty classroom in Denver. Photo: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images

An empty classroom in Denver. Photo: Hyoung Chang/Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Public Schools superintendent Alex Marrero's process for deciding what schools to close because of declining enrollment is mired in complaints of secrecy and stifled debate.

Why it matters: The district's school closure committee will make recommendations next month on which schools should shutter or consolidate.

  • The closures are controversial and often impact students of color and those from low-income households.

What's happening: The advisory committee members and community advocates say the district is running a sham process because the decisions are a "done deal" and the meetings are not open to the public, our education reporting partners at Chalkbeat write.

  • "It doesn't feel authentic," said Cynthia Trinidad-Sheahan, executive director of the Colorado Association for Bilingual Education and a committee member. "It just feels like a compliance thing — check it off, we had the committees."

The other side: The district defended its process. Grant Guyer, DPS' chief of strategy, called it an "incredibly complicated topic with many layers and perspectives."

The big picture: Denver's troubles are not unique. Other metro area districts are also facing declining enrollment, Chalkbeat bureau chief Erica Meltzer tells Axios.

  • Jefferson County closed two elementary schools in the last year.
  • In Aurora, district leaders are rethinking their process after the school board and community rejected recommendations to close two schools.

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