Mar 22, 2023 - News

Parents, families frustrated after East High shooting

Denver police chief Ron Thomas speaks to the press about a shooting at East High School on Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Denver. Photo: Esteban L. Hernandez/Axios

The frustration was too much — and too familiar — for some East High School parents to bear on Wednesday.

Driving the news: Parents demanded more details on the shooting that left two school administrators injured on Wednesday morning and searched for answers about how the district plans to keep students safe.

  • "They're angry — as they should be," Hancock said during a press conference. "We must continue to work on addressing safety in school buildings and our city in general."

What's next: Superintendent Alex Marrero said two armed officers will stay at East for the remainder of the school year.

  • "We're looking forward to expanding that conversation to see how we can reestablish a relationship with [police] presence at our schools, in particular our high schools," he said.
  • Hours after the shooting, Marrero penned a letter to school board members to say he is "committing to having an armed officer at each comprehensive high school," our partners at Chalkbeat report.
  • It's a step he acknowledges will likely violate the policy of the school board, which voted in 2020 to remove school resource officers, or SROs, from campuses.

Of note: The shooting marked the third gun violence incident near the school in the past eight months, after a shooting in February left one student dead, and another happened in September.

  • "It is unacceptable that our students and educators are forced to work in environments where we fundamentally cannot ensure their safety from gun violence," Rob Gould, president of the DCTA, the union representing Denver teachers, said in a statement.

What they're saying: "It's very nerve wracking — it's very unfortunate, kids just can't get up and go to school," Anjayia Nelson told Axios Denver as she waited outside the school to reunite with her 16-year-old sister.

  • Nelson said she left work as soon as she heard of the shooting.

Zoom in: Anxious parents lined the streets inside cars and near East as the district began an organized student release before noon.

  • "I think what scares them, for my son, is how little he reacts now," Ben Roy, whose child is a senior at the school, told the Denver Post. "He’s grown numb to it and at other times anxious."
  • "It’s scary and feels a little hopeless sometimes, especially just coming out of the last tragedy that these families have lived through and the staff has lived through," parent Amie Miller-Hubach told Denverite.

What's next: The Denver Board of Education plans to host a press conference Thursday to respond to the incident, according to Chalkbeat.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include comments from Superintendent Marrero about putting officers back in schools.

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