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Protesters claim unfair treatment of SW Denver schools

Originally Posted by 9 News on June 5, 2014. KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation. Written by Nelson Garcia. Read here.

DENVER – If there is a struggling school in Stapleton or the Highlands, protesters believe the district will work to fix the problems right away. If it is in the poorer neighborhoods of southwest Denver, they believe little will be done.

“You get to other parts of the city that are a little more affluent, a little different shade of color, they don’t accept those conditions,” Ricardo Martinez, executive director of Padres y Jovenes Unidos, said.

Padres Unidos and several other community groups, including A+ Denver and Stand for Children, commissioned a study of the state of schools in southwest Denver. The conclusion of that report is that the schools have been neglected by the district for decades because this area serves a mostly low-income and minority population.

“This has been going for years. We can say it’s teacher inexperience. It can be lack of resources,” Martinez said. “It’s a whole myriad of things.”

Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg says he applauds the enthusiasm of the community.

“To see parents and community members actively rallying, actively pushing for change and improvement in their schools, that’s a terrific thing and we welcome that,” Boasberg said.

He says the schools in southwest Denver have not been neglected. He wants all schools in Denver to succeed.

“We’ve worked very hard to improve our schools in southwest Denver and the rest of Denver. We’ve actually seen significant growth in our schools in southwest Denver,” Boasberg said.

Martinez says he doesn’t believe the district is doing enough.

“Do it faster,” Martinez said. “Our kids deserve better and they deserve better now.”

Boasberg says the district is making drastic moves including the placement of two new programs on the Kepner Middle School campus, which is located at the heart of southwest Denver.

“There’s exceptional teachers,” Boasberg said. “There’s some strong leaders in those schools.”

Martinez says he wants the Denver School Board to address these problems over the next two board meetings.

“That area has been neglected for many years and we’re demanding change,” Martinez said. “They’re not fast enough.”