Apr 17, 2023 - Politics

Denver's superintendent under fire from council members after skipping meeting

Alex Marrero, the superintendent of Denver Public Schools. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Public Schools superintendent Alex Marrero was slammed by the city council Monday for failing to attend a meeting about how to work together and address school safety.

Why it matters: The discussion was organized by council members amid a spike in teen violence, including last month's shooting at Denver East High School.

Driving the news: The council hoped to revive what used to be a standing committee made up of officials from Denver Public Schools and the city that focused on school operations and student success.

  • The committee, first created in the '50s, hasn't met in at least eight years, according to council members.
  • The Monday meeting was also intended to be an opportunity for council members to get to know Marrero.

Yes, but: Marrero sent his staff to meet with them on his behalf.

What they're saying: "To not show up is absolutely insulting to this body," said Council Member Amanda Sandoval, who is a parent of a DPS student. "I cannot express how upsetting this is."

  • Her disapproval was echoed by other members, including council President Jamie Torres and Stacie Gilmore.

State of play: School officials told the council that they are issuing a survey to students, staff and family that will ask them to rank their safety preferences.

  • Their input will be used to create a district-wide, long-term school safety plan. Officials from the superintendent's office say the first draft will be published by May 1, and a second draft is expected in June.
  • Marrero — who is facing mounting pressure from parents to deliver the safety plan — is expected to submit a final proposal for the board's approval by June 30, Denver7 reports.

Of note: Council members stressed the fact that many of their constituents say they don't feel like they have a voice at DPS.

  • They also told DPS officials that student perspectives must be sufficiently included in the plan, as well as input from community-based organizations.

The other side: It remains unclear why Marrero missed the meeting. DPS spokesperson Scott Pribble told Axios Denver in a statement:

  • "Denver Public Schools and Superintendent Marrero are committed to the continued effort to meet with experts, city officials, community members, and advisors on the development of a comprehensive safety plan for the district."

What's next: Denver school and city leaders are planning to schedule regular meetings going forward, the next one likely being in June, Torres said.

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