High school English teacher checks student's work
High school English teacher checks student's work Creative Commons

Denver Public Schools (DPS) announced a new program against the discrimination of Latino students called Latinx Student Success, seeking to improve the academic achievements of a community that makes up more than half of the city's student population.

The program comes three months after the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation over allegations that Denver Public Schools discriminated against students and others based on their race when it formed a committee to review the district's discipline policies and when administrators decide which pupils can participate in math extension courses.

After the investigation was announced, DPS commissioned the La Raza Report, a 266-page study based on historical research as well as 51 focus group interviews and thousands of survey responses. Among the conclusions of the study, which were the basis for the creation of the newly minted Latinx Student Success were:

  • Establish student tutoring programs funded by Denver employers.
  • Develop a transportation system with the city and RTD for students and families "even in those areas where providing such a service may not be cost-effective but is socially just."
  • Increase the number of students participating in the Seal of Biliteracy, which allows students to demonstrate proficiency in English and another language.
  • Develop a districtwide bilingual parent leadership institute focused on understanding the DPS educational system and the roles parents can play in their children's education.
  • Expand the pool of Spanish-speaking teachers, as well as establish a pipeline for Latino school and district leaders and a Latino leadership mentorship program.
  • Consider redrawing the boundaries for West High School and periodically review all school boundaries to account for gentrification and other population shifts.
  • Have central office employees undergo cultural sensitivity and competence training.

The new program will be spearheaded by Patricia Hurrieta, currently principal of Grant Ranch Elementary School in southwest Denver. In a press release, Hurrieta expressed her thoughts about the announcement:

"I am thrilled to collaborate with the community to address the recommendations outlined in the La Raza Report,. Together, we will strive to create an environment that fosters the success and well-being of our Latinx/Hispanic students."

According to official data, DPS has about 90,250 students, of which almost 53% are of Hispanic origin, including about 15,000 students who only speak Spanish, joined by over 3,500 new Spanish-speaking students, mostly from Venezuela and Colombia, since November 2022. Data from the Colorado Department of Education from 2022 reveal that DPS has the largest academic gap in the state between white and Hispanic students.

More than 40,000 migrants arrived in Denver since December 2022, most of them as part of Texas' Lone Star Operation, which has seen the bussing of people who reach its borders to sanctuary cities.

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