DPS board members reveal new information Thursday on firing of McAuliffe International School principal

DENVER — The president, vice president and treasurer of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education shared new information Thursday morning to justify the firing of former McAuliffe International School principal Kurt Dennis that’s drawn criticism from some community members.

In a news conference Thursday, vice president Auon’tai Anderson claimed a whistleblower on staff at McAuliffe International School revealed on Aug. 1 that students of color had been locked inside a room with a lock on the outside during the 2022-2023 school year.

Anderson said he spoke with District Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero, who confirmed this room — Room 121E — did exist, but that the district had no prior knowledge of the room or its existence. The lock was removed from the door after a work order was submitted by a school employee, citing the room needed repairs.

The work order stated that there were “multiple holes in dry wall due to student rage and incarceration,” according to Anderson.

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Anderson said he and school board director at-large Scott Esserman went to McAuliffe to investigate and discovered that “locks had also been placed on the windows of the room, (and) that the vent in the room was destroyed.”

“It is my recommendation that this must be reviewed by the Denver Police Department and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to ensure that none of the adults detained any student against their will and ensure that these acts did not result in serious physical or emotional harm toward our students,” Anderson said.

He added that the Board of Education has been briefed and were investigating.

“Our schools are places of learning, not prisons,” Anderson said.

Kurt Dennis said he was fired after he came forward back in March to criticize DPS over safety concerns at McAuliffe International School, particularly daily pat downs of some students.

The same protocol led up to a shooting at East High in February.

Parents rallied around Dennis in July because many credit him for turning around this once failing school.

Denver Public Schools board members reveal new information on firing of McAuliffe International School principal

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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