LETTERS: DPS must prioritize school safety | Opinion | #schoolsaftey

DPS must prioritize school safety

I write to express my deep concern regarding the neglected school safety within Denver Public Schools (DPS) and the urgent need for accountability and effective solutions. Over the past three years, the leadership, particularly the elected board of education, has disregarded this critical task. Recent shootings on and around East High School highlight the devastating consequences of their failed policies, draining lives, blood, and resources from our children and educators.

As a security expert and DPS parent, I can attest that the current policies provide no real protection and fail to create a safe learning environment. They have contributed to declining enrollment, decreased teacher retention, and dismal education metrics. It is time for the board of education to acknowledge their shortcomings and take responsibility.

Efforts by parent groups after the shooting at East on March 22 exposed the disastrous policies in place. However, our suggestions, including those from families directly affected by these events, have been ignored or dismissed by the board. Their proposed safety drafts and limitation proposals do not address the core issues of gun violence, criminal activity, or the prevention of mass shootings in schools. Simply put, they fail to protect our students and empower school principals to handle crises effectively.

The proposal to eliminate School Resource Officers (SROs) in Plan A is deeply flawed. Deterrence is a vital aspect of risk mitigation, as evident in the shooting at Coventry School in Nashville. The presence of SROs prevented a tragedy, while the lack of security at Coventry made it a vulnerable target.

Removing SROs without adequately addressing the problem of guns in schools or supporting principals in handling children in crisis is a misguided approach.

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Plan B offers a solid starting point for effective executive limitations, but the current discipline matrix and the unwillingness to address disruptive elements within it necessitate the presence of police. We must face the reality that children in our country have access to guns. Schools need to prepare for the safety threats posed by emotionally impulsive individuals carrying firearms on campus. It is crucial to protect our children and public school workers and provide them with the necessary support and interventions.

The board’s inability to identify and agree on the problems our children face, their lack of collaborative efforts, and their failure to prioritize safety and school security are deeply concerning. We need leaders who can identify safety gaps, set clear goals, involve knowledgeable individuals, and work together to fix the issues at hand.

It’s time for DPS to prioritize the safety and well-being of our students and educators. Only then can we begin to address the educational failures within the district. Let us hold our elected officials accountable and demand the changes necessary to ensure a safe and conducive learning environment for our children.

Paul Ballenger, Candidate for Board of Education


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