Denver Public Schools is canceling classes across the district Friday for its staff and students to focus on mental health after a 17-year-old student shot two administrators inside Denver East High School, a spokesman for the district said Thursday.
Students will return to school in April, following spring break that begins next week.
“No student or employee should have to carry fear of potential violence when they walk into our buildings each day,” Denver Public Schools Superintendent Alex Marrero said in a letter sent to staff Thursday afternoon.
The mental health day will allow students and staff “to take a moment to pause and process the challenging events this year,” Marrero wrote. Resources to access therapy were also included in the letter.
Two school administrators, both deans, were wounded in Wednesday’s shooting — the second shooting at the high school in six weeks.
Eric Sinclair was listed in serious condition at Denver Health Medical Center as of Thursday afternoon. The other dean, Jerald Mason, was released from the hospital Wednesday evening.
A student, Luis Garcia, died March 1 after spending weeks in the hospital following a Feb. 13 shooting outside the school.
The recent gun violence at Denver East High School has left many students and parents reeling and demanding more safety in school buildings. On Thursday, scores of East High School students, clad in red, their school’s color, were at the Capitol for the second time in a month to ask lawmakers to take action on gun violence.
Students and parents confronted lawmakers in the hallways.
“We’ve got to find someone meaningful,” one student told his friends as they milled around outside the Colorado House chamber. One parent was in tears while talking to Rep. Ken DeGraaf, a Colorado Springs Republican who is a fierce defender of gun rights.
Students rallied at the Capitol earlier this month after Garcia, who was 16, died.
Police officers will be present at all of the district’s high schools for the rest of the year to serve as additional security, Denver Public Schools superintendent Alex Marrero said, reversing a 2020 vote by the Denver School Board to phase police out of the city’s schools.
The body of the 17-year-old student suspected in Wednesday’s shooting was found less than a half-mile from where his red SUV was located about four hours earlier near the town of Bailey, which is 50 miles west of Denver, Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw said.
This is a developing story that will be updated.