Apr 17, 2024 - Education

Denver schools tighten student discipline, new report shows

Illustration of a spotlight shining on an empty school desk facing a wall by itself.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Denver Public Schools are dispensing "permissible" disciplinary actions the vast majority of the time, even as questions remain about whether it reaches an appropriate level.

Why it matters: The district is facing intense scrutiny from parents and the public about how it handles troubled students after the March 2023 shooting at East High School.

Flashback: The East High student who shot and injured two deans had been expelled from a neighboring district and was subject to a daily search for weapons by school staff.

State of play: The "permissible" discipline matrix is new this year, our education reporting partners at Chalkbeat write, and it is designed to make corrective actions uniform across the district.

  • 94% of the 8,000 discipline actions met the criteria, compared with 83% last school year.
  • Black students continue to be disproportionately disciplined but the responses are in line with the permitted punishments.

What they're saying: "There's still a tremendous amount of growth and areas of improvement … we are trending better," superintendent Alex Marrero told school board members at a recent meeting.

What we're watching: The 2021 matrix for how students are disciplined is being rewritten after community input and will debut for the next school year.

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