DPS is broken. When a beloved principal is fired after speaking out against a policy that put him, his staff and students in danger, the increasingly infinitesimal hope that DPS could self-correct evaporates.
This is a district that time and again shows how little respect it has for its staff, students and parents, let alone the taxpayers who fund it.
Over the past six months I have tried, in both personal and professional capacities, to reach out to the DPS superintendent as well as its director of climate and safety and the school board for comment on their safety policies and questions about specific swatting incidents.
I’m not alone. The lack of transparency and responsiveness from this administration has angered many DPS parents. Would you entrust your child to a babysitter who didn’t answer your phone call? Yet that is what this administration expects from its parents today.
And when people speak up, they suffer retaliation, as evidenced by the firing of McAuliffe International School principal Kurt Dennis. Following the March 22 East shooting, Dennis revealed that DPS insisted that a middle schooler charged with first-degree attempted murder continue coming to school, in person, with his staff having to daily search the student for weapons, a policy they all found dangerous. No wonder.
This was exactly the policy that on March 22 left two deans shot and one student (the perpetrator) dead.
Dennis should be lauded for his bravery; instead — fired. A principal at Baker who was threatened by a student — well, DPS told her to suck it up or leave her post.
Dennis is suing DPS for violating his First Amendment rights; the parents of Luis Garcia, the East student who was killed just off school grounds, is considering a lawsuit. Will the two deans?
Is that what it will take for DPS to take responsibility?
This is an administration that uses technicalities — Garcia wasn’t technically on school grounds; Austin Lyle, the shooter in the March 22 incident, wasn’t killed on school property — as if those are plusses.
Worst still is that, safety issues aside, DPS is failing its students in what should be its fundamental purpose: education. Not even half of DPS students are reading at grade level!
As Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” DPS’ administration’s board and executive keep showing us who they are. Remember that when November’s school board elections roll around.
Shana Goldberg may be reached at [email protected]
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