DENVER — At least one Denver Public Schools (DPS) campus is taking matters into its own hands when it comes to school safety.
McAuliffe International Middle School principal Kurt Dennis announced Friday that volunteer parents will be monitoring school entrances and adults in yellow vests will be helping to patrol and secure the building’s exterior.
“I support it as a first step,” said Becky Nemec, who has one child at McAuliffe and another at Park Hill Elementary.
The parent patrols are coming in response to recent school violence, notably the East High School shooting last month, just 2.5 miles from McAuliffe.
“I don’t think there is a simple solution to this problem,” Nemec said. “I love that Principal Dennis was a little more holistic as he has parents there to monitor the doors and make sure only the students need to be there.”
“I used to be the executive director of the zone that oversees McAuliffe,” said Vernon Jones, who has two children at Denver Public Schools. He applauds Dennis for taking action.
“Kurt can’t wait to have a secure building,” Jones said. “If he allows safety to be put on hold, that’s 1,600 children plus staff whose lives are at risk every day.”
Parents say it’s a step in the right direction, but their school, like others, has disciplinary issues that are far more systemic — such as teachers afraid to discipline students who act up and disrupt the learning environment .
Denver’s largest middle school is adding parent patrols to improve security and surveillance around campus
“Exactly,” said Nemec. “I mean, I feel like the district policies, like the disciplinary matrix they have, have essentially normalized bad behavior.”
Nemec, Jones and other McAuliffe parents told Denver7 Monday that the entire DPS Board of Education must go.
“I think Dysfunction is a nice title right now,” Jones said. “You’re just neglecting your duties, from the board down.”
“Oh, 100%,” Nemec said. “I definitely feel like we need to call back the entire board.”
Many parents also believe that a School Resource Officer (SRO) should be part of the added security at McAuliffe going forward.
“As long as it’s done carefully and thoughtfully,” Nemec said. “As a parent liaison at the door, I will not pat down the students. I still don’t feel comfortable with administrators frisking students.”
McAuliffe students are no longer allowed to wear hoodies under the new safety plan. Surveillance cameras and psychiatric services have also been added.
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