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Denver cancels classes Friday for mental health day after East High shooting

East High School and the surrounding campus full of police vehicles is seen from a distance.

The shooting of two administrators at East High Schools has shifted the conversation about police in Denver schools.

Erica Meltzer / Chalkbeat

Denver Public Schools has called a mental health day Friday, with no classes for students and no work for teachers, in the wake of the shooting of two administrators at East High School

“As we learn more about the developments coming out of the shooting that took place at East High School yesterday, I want to extend my heartfelt apologies to the East High School community, and the larger DPS community,” Marrero wrote in an email to parents. “No student or employee should have to carry the fear of potential violence when they walk into our buildings each day.”

Marrero said canceling classes would allow the community to “take a moment to pause and process the challenging events this year.” Among those, he cited a recent data breach that exposed personal information of school employees and students.

Friday would have been the last day of classes before Denver spring break next week. Teachers were planning a “Sick for Safety” march to the Capitol Friday. Classes had already been canceled at East for the rest of the week after Wednesday’s shooting and lockdown.

Police say two administrators were shot as they searched 17-year-old Austin Lyle for weapons Wednesday morning. Lyle fled and was found dead in Park County southwest of Denver that evening. Lyle had previously been expelled from the Cherry Creek School District. 

On Thursday, students from many Denver schools left class and marched to the Capitol to call for better gun control. A number of bills, including one raising the age to purchase firearms and another expanding who can request that guns be removed from people who are a danger to themselves and others, are moving through the Colorado legislature.

Also on Thursday, the Denver school board voted unanimously to return police to high school campuses, suspending a policy they adopted in 2020 in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Bureau Chief Erica Meltzer covers education policy and politics and oversees Chalkbeat Colorado’s education coverage. Contact Erica at emeltzer@chalkbeat.org.

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