Board of Education Meeting Update – March 16, 2017

Board Resolution to End Suspensions, Expulsions for ECE-3

Following a press announcement at Godsman Elementary School yesterday, the Board of Education passed a resolution stating its intent to end suspensions and expulsions for students in Early Childhood Education (ECE) through third grades in favor of more thoughtful disciplinary practices at the March 16, 2017 Board of Education meeting.

“The message that we are sending to our youngest students and families is that we are starting early and we are starting smart,” said Board Member Rachele Espiritu. “The best place for you to be is in school. And, that’s where we want to see you thriving and being successful.”

The resolution states that “it is well-established that removal from school through discipline negatively impacts engagement and connection to school in the early years of a student’s life. These earliest exposures to education are intended to develop students’ perceptions and trust of school and teachers, and to instill fundamental social-emotional and academic skills that will become the foundation for success.”

“Taking this important step to help our kids, to change our culture to keep our kids in school and drive our success, is fundamental,” said Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “Equally important is to dialogue with our teachers, our parents and our community members to determine how we make sure that we implement this successfully.”

It calls for developmentally appropriate strategies for preventing future behavior incidents, including development of behavior plans that should involve families, teachers, leaders and other support staff.

The district will elicit feedback over the next two months on how to implement the resolution, with a strong emphasis on the supports necessary for teachers and school leaders to meaningfully support student development and school safety. Watch for additional information and details in DPS newsletters.

“I think that it is terribly important to make sure that we are listening to teachers and school leaders as part of the plan,” said Board Vice President Barbara O’Brien. “We have to understand the tools they need to help students when they really need it, so we can improve what is happening in kids’ lives and help them get back to the business of absorbing everything that is around them.”

DPS has been a national leader in discipline reform efforts focusing on the elimination of racial disparities in discipline, elimination of the school-to-prison pipeline, and an emphasis on restorative justice practices and other positive alternatives to suspension and expulsion. The district’s out-of-school suspension rate has dropped by more than two-thirds and expulsions have been reduced by more than 70% in the past 10 years.

Resolution Launches Committee to Address Effects of Gentrification, School Equity  

The board approved a resolution to establish a citywide committee charged with examining the effects of gentrification and changing housing patterns on our schools. The committee will make recommendations on the district’s policies around boundaries, choice, enrollment and academic programs in order to help drive greater socio-economic integration in our schools.

As Denver continues to grow and housing prices increase, our diverse neighborhoods are struggling to balance the challenges of gentrification with their rich cultural histories. In addition, changes in housing patterns and demographics have resulted in a significant decrease in the number of school-aged children in a number of areas.

“As we look at the quite dramatic changes in our neighborhoods, this work is incredibly important to the goals we have embedded in the Denver Plan,” said Board President Anne Rowe. “It’s really about about how we create equity and access to high-quality schools for our children. So, I am enthusiastically supporting the creation of this committee.”

Watch for more information about the committee in DPS newsletters.

Vote Expected in April on School Performance Compact Changes 

Superintendent Tom Boasberg discussed staff recommendations regarding changes to the district’s School Performance Compact (SPC) in the Board meeting. The board is expected to vote on the changes in April. You can read the full recommendations here.

Charter Renewals Approved 

The following schools’ charter contracts were renewed as part of the board’s consent agenda:

  • Academy 360
  • Academy of Urban Learning
  • ACE Community Challenge
  • Cesar Chavez Academy
  • Denver Language School
  • Downtown Denver Expeditionary Learning Elementary School
  • Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST) Byers Middle School
  • DSST Cole Middle School
  • Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS) Middle School
  • Highline Academy Southeast
  • KIPP Sunshine Peak Academy
  • KIPP Montbello College Prep Middle School
  • Monarch Montessori
  • Ridge View Academy
  • Southwest Early College
  • STRIVE Prep – Excel
  • STRIVE Prep – Westwood
  • Wyatt Academy

The board also approved contract amendments for Omar D. Blair Charter School, and resolutions regarding STRIVE Southwest Elementary School and Near Northeast Community Engagement School.

View the individual memos and charters here.