Letter from Mr. Kohut

DSA Parents, Guardians and Families,

As many of you have seen in the media this past week, students from a number of Denver schools have staged protests in response to events in Ferguson, MO, and elsewhere. The message our students have sent us through these walkouts and in our conversations with them is very clear: They want more opportunities in our schools to talk about race and social justice issues, to learn from these national conversations and affect positive change in our community – and we must do more in our classrooms and throughout our schools for meaningful and productive dialogue on these issues. Denver Public Schools has provided us with a number of resources to help us guide these discussions and work with our student leaders to plan in-school classroom conversations, lessons and activities.

With our mix of 6 -12 grades students the DSA administration wants to encourage our older students to not hold a walkout to demonstrate their feelings regarding the ongoing incidents that have occurred in our country. The DSA Administration is committed to providing student planned forums for discussion to talk about these issues. Student leaders in the school are going to begin working with administration to formulate conversation when school resumes on January 5th. We want all of our students to be safe and for our younger students to also have a forum to participate in these conversations. The administration is asking that you take some time and discuss these issues with your students. Encourage them to not walk of class over the next two weeks. The next 9 days will be very busy as we begin the close of first semester and students prepare for district assessments and exams. Our schools are the best place to have dialogue and conversations about student concerns. Leaving school raises significant safety issues as well as resulting in lost learning time and unexcused absences.

At this point, we ask you to join us in encouraging your students to remain in school where they can assist in planning opportunities to discuss these important issues. The safety of our students is of primary concern and the best place for them to be during the school day is in school. We also want our students to be aware that there are consequences of being out of the classroom for protests and demonstrations, including unexcused absences and lost learning time. Please know that we will be following our normal process for unexcused absences and any consequences that result from them.

The DSA administration knows that conversations about race and social justice are difficult to have and we appreciate your ongoing support and partnership. There is an article posted on our web site that provides helpful tips for parents talking to children of all ages about the shooting in Ferguson. I hope you find it helpful as you talk with your students this week.

William M. Kohut,

Downloadable copy of letter from Mr. Kohut