Beacon Community seeks injunction to stop innovation zone dissolution — science weblog

A lawsuit filed Wednesday has the potential to check the power of college autonomy in Denver Public Faculties, a former stronghold of college reform that has since reversed course.

The nonprofit group Beacon Community Faculties, considered one of three innovation zones in DPS, is suing the district to cease the revocation of the zone. The Denver faculty board voted April 10 to revoke the zone, which is made up of two center colleges: Kepner Beacon and Grant Beacon. 

Beneath the zone, the leaders of Kepner and Grant are overseen by a nonprofit board of administrators and never by DPS, which supplies the faculties elevated autonomy. Revoking the zone returns Kepner and Grant to district management. 

The lawsuit argues that revocation causes “irreparable hurt” to college students, households, and lecturers. “Beacon Zone college students and households face uncertainty relating to the kind of academic setting through which they may take part and can face a degraded faculty expertise subsequent 12 months with out the assist of the Beacon Zone,” the lawsuit says.

DPS spokesman Scott Pribble mentioned the district doesn’t touch upon pending litigation.

Beacon Community Faculties can be interesting the revocation to the State Board of Schooling.

The state board’s ruling received’t be binding. As a substitute, the state board can evaluation the revocation and make a suggestion to the Denver faculty board, which has the ultimate say. The attraction is the primary time an innovation zone has taken benefit of a brand new state legislation handed final 12 months.

In its lawsuit, Beacon Community Faculties claims the Denver faculty board illegally revoked the zone. Beacon argues {that a} zone can solely be revoked for one motive beneath state legislation: as a result of college students at a number of colleges within the zone do not make ample educational progress.

On this case, Superintendent Alex Marrero advisable the zone be revoked for a number of causes, together with insufficient monetary oversight by the zone board and issues concerning the zone’s organizational well being. He raised issues with the distinctive employment association of the Beacon zone’s govt director, Alex Magaña. Though Magaña is a DPS worker, he solutions to the Beacon zone board, to not DPS directors.

Beacon argues that none of these are authentic causes to revoke a zone.

Marrero additionally cited low scholar check scores at Kepner Beacon. Solely 21% of scholars met expectations in literacy on state assessments final spring, whereas 6% met expectations in math. 

However Beacon claims the information is restricted and flawed. DPS officers had beforehand mentioned in an electronic mail to principals that educational knowledge from final faculty 12 months was “not an correct illustration of a complete scholar physique” as a result of “far fewer” college students took the check than normally do.

Beacon officers have mentioned they think Marrero’s suggestion to revoke the zone was primarily based on a disagreement with Magaña. Marrero testified on the state Capitol towards the invoice to permit innovation zones to attraction to the state board. Magaña testified for it. 

Eliot Lewis, chair of the Beacon Community Faculties board and a former Grant Beacon mum or dad, wrote in a signed assertion connected to the lawsuit that he believes the varsity board’s determination to revoke was “primarily based totally on private enmity between District personnel, particular Board members, and BNS Government Director Alex Magaña.”

Marrero has mentioned the invoice testimony had nothing to do with the revocation.

Beacon is asking the Denver District Courtroom to grant each a short lived restraining order and a preliminary injunction to cease DPS from taking up Kepner and Grant.

DPS has already began the method, the lawsuit says, together with by suggesting that Kepner and Grant workers could also be required to attend “district-mandated summer time programming” versus summer time programming placed on by the Beacon zone.

The lawsuit argues that Beacon is in a time crunch. DPS has requested Kepner and Grant to submit new school-level innovation plans that erase all references to the zone by Could 10. The short-term restraining order is supposed to pause that timeline whereas the courtroom considers the preliminary injunction and the state board considers the attraction.

The state board has 60 days from Wednesday to listen to the attraction.

There are solely three innovation zones in your complete state that the attraction legislation applies to, and all three are in DPS. Beacon is considered one of them. One other, the Luminary Studying Community, was renewed by the Denver faculty board final month. 

The opposite zone, the Northeast Denver Innovation Zone, is regrouping after lecturers at its largest faculty, Northfield Excessive, voted to exit the zone in March. The college board has not but determined whether or not to resume the NDIZ zone or revoke it. 

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, masking Denver Public Faculties. Contact Melanie at

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