A judge ruled last week that the Denver Public Schools board violated state law when it held a closed-door meeting, and the district must now release the recording to the public.
District Court Judge Andrew Luxen’s order came after several news organizations sued DPS, alleging the board violated Colorado law by making policy decisions behind closed doors and not properly declaring an executive session, according to The Denver Post.
The meeting happened on Mar. 23, after a student shot two deans at East High School before killing himself. The school says the meeting addressed security concerns.
Following the meeting, new safety plans were released which reversed a 2020 decision to remove SROs.
“It is the recommendation of Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero to the Board of Education to allow all district-run high schools and 6th-12th campuses to engage their school communities to make a site-based decision regarding SROs on their campuses,” the school wrote at the time. “The decision to house Denver Police Department SROs by 6th-12th campuses would occur annually and must involve the use of a community engagement process.”
Luxen initially ordered DPS to publicly release the five-hour recording of the meeting by noon Monday, but granted a two-week extension following an appeal from the school board.
DPS’s attorney Jonathan Fero argued that releasing the recording while the district appeals the ruling “would effectively end this case,” according to The Denver Post.
“Once you release it, it’s out there, it’s over,” Fero said. “There’s no reason this can’t be held and preserved up until the time we have an appeal.”
However, Steven Zansberg, an attorney representing the news organizations, said the public has a “statutory right to speedy access” while the topic is timely and newsworthy, not after a lengthy appeals process.
Some parents, like Steve Katsaros, are questioning the board’s decision to appeal and wonder what it could possibly be hiding.
“The fact that Denver Public Schools is appealing the judge’s decision is an embarrassment and continues to show that they’re trying to hide the ball,” said Katsaros, co-founder of the Parent Safety Advocacy Group, according to CBS News. “They need to understand that we, as taxpayers, have rights and we need access to what is ours.”
The board now has until noon on July 11 to release the recording from the meeting to the public.