Denver Public Schools will release a video recording of a closed-door meeting that board members held in March in response to a shooting inside East High School after the district’s board voted Friday morning to make it public.
The board’s 7-0 vote came four weeks after a Denver District Court ruled the five-hour executive session on March 23 violated Colorado law. The Denver Post and several other media organizations sued DPS, seeking a recording of that session.
Friday’s vote left unclear when the school district would release the video. DPS general counsel Aaron Thompson told the board that staff members would have to work through technical challenges because of the recording’s length and size, and he wasn’t sure if posting it on the district’s website — rather than requiring people to request a USB drive — would be feasible.
“I’ll just reiterate that it’s critical that we make this as publicly available as possible — and not just to the plaintiffs in the case,” board Director Scott Esserman said before the vote during a brief special board meeting that was held virtually.
The board’s motion directed DPS staff to release the recording except for any portions that deal with information regarding specific students.
The executive session at issue was prompted by a shooting the day before in which an East student injured two administrators. The body of the student, Austin Lyle, 17, later was found after he killed himself in Park County, about 50 miles southwest of Denver.
During the closed session, the board discussed security arrangements, including the return of school resource officers to many DPS campuses. Members then emerged into a public session to approve, without public debate, a prepared memo that temporarily suspended a 2020 policy banning armed police officers in schools. The board later voted to fully reverse that policy, allowing school resource officers to return permanently to campuses.
DPS has appealed the Denver court’s June 23 ruling that ordered DPS to release an unredacted recording of the executive session. Thompson reiterated Friday to the board that because the Colorado Court of Appeals has issued a stay in the case, his view was that the district was “under no obligation” to release the video.
Colorado law allows public bodies to conduct business outside public view only in specific circumstances. Denver District Judge Andrew Luxen ruled that DPS’ executive session violated the Colorado Open Meetings Law because it doesn’t allow the creation of public policy in secret, and proper notice wasn’t given by DPS beforehand for the topics discussed.
Besides The Post, the news organizations involved in the lawsuit are Chalkbeat Colorado, Colorado Newsline, KDVR Fox 31, KUSA 9News and the Denver Gazette/Colorado Politics.
This is a developing story that will be updated.
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