east high denver

Denver board decides to bring armed police back to its high schools

March 27, 2023
The decision comes a day after two administrators at East High School were shot and wounded by a student.

The Denver school board has voted unanimously to put armed police back in the city’s high schools, a decision that comes a day after two administrators were shot at East High School.

The Denver Post reports that the board action suspends, through June, the board’s policy barring school resource officers — SROs — in Denver schools.

The board has directed Superintendent Alex Marrero to work with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock to “externally fund” the placement of two armed police officers and up to two mental health workers at every district high school for the rest of the academic year.

The school board had voted in 2020 to remove Denver Police Department resource officers from schools following the protests over the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

Board members have argued that police officers in schools are harmful to students of color and contribute to the school-to-prison pipeline.

The school board will ask the Denver Police Department to “ensure every armed police officer is appropriately trained in the use of firearms, de-escalation techniques, policing in a school environment, knowledgeable of the school community they intend to serve and skilled in community policing." The superintendent has been tasked to ensure principals, teachers and staff members are “not using armed police officers for discipline issues that arise on campus or in classrooms."

Last week, a 17-year-old East student, Austin Lyle, shot and wounded two administrators inside the school as they performed a daily search of Lyle for weapons, as required by his student safety plan. Lyle had been “removed” from Overland High School in Aurora for rules violations and was on probation for a prior weapons charge.

Lyle’s body was found later, and preliminary autopsy findings show he died by suicide.

The wounded administrators were hospitalized. Dean of Culture Eric Sinclair was listed in serious condition;  restorative justice director Jerald Mason, was discharged after treatment for his injuries.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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