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Citing lack of consensus, Jeffco Public Schools abandons idea to tear down and rebuild Columbine High School

The idea was first floated in June. A survey by the school district revealed that many were against the concept.

Officers from Jefferson County Schools tell a motorist that they can not be on the property of Columbine High School on June 13, 2019, in Littleton. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Saying there is not enough consensus to move forward, Jeffco Public Schools Superintendent Jason Glass told parents in the district on Wednesday that he is abandoning a suggestion to tear down and rebuild Columbine High School.

“I do not believe there is sufficient support to move forward with a proposal to rebuild the school,” he wrote. 

MORE: Should schools and buildings be torn down after mass shootings? Columbine looks to others as it struggles with trespassers

The school district was considering whether to join other communities impacted by mass violence, like Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, that decided to partially or fully tear down buildings where tragedies occurred. The idea was first floated in June. 

Some 2,400 people were stopped or arrested at Columbine High School between June 2018 and May 2019 because they did not belong there, part of a yearslong trend of visitors interested in the 1999 massacre.

The April 20, 1999, massacre at the school left 13 dead. The two gunmen also died. 

Former Columbine principal Frank DeAngelis, who led the school during the massacre, was in favor of tearing it down. “Enough is enough,” he said.

But others felt differently. 

Jeffco Public Schools conducted a survey of nearly 7,000 people, including parents, district employees, current students and community members, finding many people had a “very negative” initial reaction to the idea. A large swath also said they would vote against a ballot initiative to pay for the rebuilding of Columbine.

“While this concept has supporters and merits, there are also valid concerns that were raised,” Glass wrote. “It is clear to me that no consensus direction exists to rebuild the school.”

Glass said the problem of unauthorized people visiting the school must be addressed and that the district “will be implementing changes to enhance the security and privacy of the site, including the creation of an improved and defined perimeter around the building.”

John McDonald, who is in charge of security for the 157 Jefferson County Schools, told The Colorado Sun earlier that “these people want to see where the tragedy happened. They feel connected to the killers.”

Glass said additional security will be paid for by existing district resources. 

“I deeply appreciate the engagement and respect our community has shown in navigating this difficult question,” he wrote. “I understand the prevailing wishes of the Jeffco community on this matter and we will work to meet those, keeping Columbine a great school and making it even more secure going forward.”

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