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Final draft of DPS safety plan released | #schoolsaftey

DENVER — Denver Public Schools (DPS) released the final version of its long-term safety plan on Friday.

The DPS Board of Education in March directed Superintendent Alex Marrero to draft a comprehensive safety plan for the district – a day after two deans were shot and injured by a student at East High School. The final plan released on Friday was the third draft.

> Video above: DPS survey shows student thoughts on return of armed officers in schools

The plan includes:

  • Working with the Denver Police Department to establish a detailed plan to potentially bring back school resources officers to some or all campuses.
  • Allowing schools to decide whether they want a weapons-detection system at each building. The plan says the district is “continuing to research the best, most effective options.”
  • Having armed patrol officers and unarmed school-based officers assist in student searches where weapons are the primary concern. The practice of having individual safety plans for some students, which can include daily searches, is not changing.
  • No immediate changes to the current discipline matrix, which allows for students to return to class while facing charges for violent crimes, including attempted murder. It does call for district staff to examine the current discipline practices after attending a training at Harvard University prior to the coming school year.
  • Exploring options to expand hybrid online learning options for students that “need choices that meet their educational needs at different times in their lives.” This includes implementing a process to make enrollment decisions consistent when there are safety considerations.
  • Continuing to do safety audits every three years and finishing an ongoing assessment of building conditions related to safety best-practices. 
  • Screening all students for potential behavioral and mental health risks three times per school year.
  • Offering suicide prevention programming to all fifth-, sixth-, ninth- and 12th-grade classes.

The decision on whether to have school resource officers in schools has been the most contentious issue in the community. 

In 2020, the board voted to remove school resource officers from schools by the end of the 2020-21 school year. After the shooting at East High School, Marrero and the board reinstated SROs at 13 schools until June 30.

The first draft of the safety plan included a recommendation to allow middle and high schools to decide individually, each year, whether to have armed Denver Police Department officers in schools.

After hearing feedback from the community, an updated draft said that if the school board opts to bring back school resource officers (SROs) to the district’s schools, the plan should be comprehensive, applying to all schools grades six through 12 and each high school.

In mid-June the school board voted 4-3  to overturn the 2020 policy that previous removed SROs from the district (EL 10.10.), and update the policy to allow for the return of SROs on district campuses.

The first draft of the safety plan was released in early May. After soliciting feedback from the community, the district released a second draft late in the month. They continued to take feedback on that version of plan through mid-June. 

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