Board of Education Update – May 16, 2019 Board of Education Meeting

Student Board of Education Presents Annual Report; Colorado Youth Congress Shares an Update on Student Projects

At the May 16, 2019 meeting the Denver Board of Education reviewed the DPS Student Board of Education‘s Annual Report. The Student Board of Education (SBOE), made up of a team of high school student leaders, builds powerful relationships between adults and students in the district to ensure student voice is at the forefront of decisions impacting schools. There are currently over 200 students participating in 22 DPS high schools.

The following Student Voice and Leadership executive leaders presented the end of year report:

  • Jhoni Palmer, a junior at East High School
  • Kevante Hobley, a senior at East High School
  • Esperanza Garcia, a senior at South High School
  • Katy Malone, a senior at South High School

SBOE and Young African-American and Latino Leadership (YAALL) highlighted a few of their accomplishments from this year, including that they:

  • Established a strong relationship with the DPS Board of Education
  • Reviewed new school proposals
  • Presented social justice policy issues and solutions to fix them through Challenge 5280, including creating change for equitable SAT college entrance exam practices
  • Advocated for the ability for students 16 and older to vote in school board elections
  • Prepared a plan to review school openings and closures as well as updated graduation requirements for the Class of 2021 and beyond

Speaking to the board, Jhoni said: “We would like to thank the DPS Board of Education for giving us the opportunities we had this year, and being willing to work with us even though on a daily basis we challenge you. We want to help provide solutions to our problems. Thank you for always being willing to have those tough conversations and for giving us that space to grow as student leaders. Thank you for an amazing year.”

Board member Happy Haynes attended the Challenge 5280 event on Tuesday, May 14, 2019. “This past week, I had the extraordinary opportunity to see student voice in this district at its pinnacle. The projects, the tough questions our students tackled, how genuine and focused on the truth around the issues and the problems, but more importantly their hope and inspiration around finding solutions, was remarkable,” she said.

The Student Voice and Leadership Executive Team Report is available here.

Board Hears From Colorado Youth Congress

The board learned of five campaigns led by organizing group Colorado Youth Congress, backed by members of SBOE, including a criminal justice campaign to end the school-to-prison pipeline and a gender equity campaign to make sex education more comprehensive and consent-based.

For more information about their work, visit

High-achieving Class of 2019 Graduates Honored for Earning College Credits

DPS first started offering college courses — for free — to high school students through the Concurrent Enrollment program in 2008. Since then, more than 16,000 DPS students have simultaneously earned both high school and college credits, saving them time and money on their path toward a meaningful career. Free college in high school is designed to level the playing field for students who have historically been the most underserved in higher education: students of color, low-income students, first-generation college students and English Language Learners.

The board heard from Dr. Samantha Haviland, DPS Director of Counseling Services and College Access, and students graduating with college credits.

“Last year alone, DPS students earned 54,000 college credits while enrolled in high school, for a total savings of more than $8.7 million in college costs. These programs are also offering highly rigorous courses to our students, and helping them get practice before they go to college,” said Dr. Haviland.

“I’ve been in this program for three and a half years. I actually wasn’t planning on going to college and you can imagine how shocked I am that I am getting a degree today,” said Alyssa, a student from Denver Online High School who earned her associate degree while in high school.

Expansion of Ethnic Studies courses through Concurrent Enrollment

Under Superintendent Cordova’s Entry Plan, this fall DPS high schools will expand their offerings of free college classes to include ethnic studies courses. Ethnic studies courses include Social Justice, African-American Literacy and History, Chicano American Literacy and History, Criminal Justice, Sociology, Women of Color in Literature, Mass Media and more – classes students have indicated they want to take to explore their own and other cultures.

“I know from my own personal experiences, from the experiences of my own children and countless voices of our students, when they’re able to take classes where they see themselves in the coursework, they are far more likely to persist and do well,” said Superintendent Cordova.

According to research studies, students who enroll in ethnic studies courses are more likely to have a higher G.P.A., a lower dropout rate and a feeling of being connected with their own cultural history.

For more information on ways students can earn free college credits in high school, visit

Collaboration with the Warriors for High-quality Schools

In an ongoing effort to increase collaboration between the board and community groups, board member Jennifer Bacon shared a resolution, “Deepening the District’s Commitment to Black Excellence in Collaboration with the Warriors for High-quality Schools,” for board approval.

“I’m supportive of this resolution, and very excited that the DPS staff members are working on developing a framework that we can institutionalize districtwide about what it means to be community-led and district-supported,” said board member Angela Cobián.

The board unanimously approved the resolution.

Read the full resolution here.

Other Topics Discussed During Board Meeting

The board also heard updates on the following:

  • Board member reports:
    • Celebration of East High School National Constitutional Law Champions
    • Denver Scholarship Foundation Annual Report
    • African-American Young Ladies Program Update
    • Update on City Curfew Revision
    • Discussion of a Resolution on the Use of Handcuffs by DPS Department of Safety
  • Superintendent’s reports:
    • Seal of Biliteracy
    • Teacher Renewal Update
    • Union Membership

For more information, please visit the BoardDocs website.