Jan 19, 2023 - News

Denver sees spike in weapons found at school

Illustration of bullets and crayons in a crayon box.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

Authorities discovered 200 weapons at Denver Public Schools last school year — nearly five times the total from 2018-19, our partners at Chalkbeat report.

Why it matters: The number of weapons on campuses is expected to remain elevated this academic year, and Denver Superintendent Alex Marrero is sounding the alarm.

  • "This is, pardon the pun, a ticking time bomb," Marrero told the district's school board at a recent meeting.

What's happening: Most students carry the weapons for protection, not to instigate violence, officials say. But the concern about weapons extends to potential violence on the way to or from school.

By the numbers: For the 2021-22 year, weapons found included 13 firearms and 28 fake guns.

  • So far this school year, the district has recovered 79 weapons, including seven guns.

What they're saying: Marrero wants a community-wide solution. "This is not a DPS issue," he told the school board. "This is a city of Denver issue. This is a county, a state issue — quite frankly, a national phenomenon in terms of access to guns."

Of note: Despite the concern with weapons, the district stands by its decision to remove police officers from schools, citing an 81% decrease in students being referred to law enforcement last year compared with 2018-19.

Zoom in: In September, Marrero stood at the bedside of the East High School student who was a bystander to a shooting outside the nearby recreation center and suffered a gunshot to the face.

  • The student couldn't speak. "Why was I shot?" he wrote, Marrero recalled. "I have no answer for that," Marrero said.

Go deeper with our partners at Chalkbeat


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