One month after a deadly shooting, the fate of STEM School’s charter is in question

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — About one month after the deadly school shooting in Highlands Ranch, STEM School parents and students packed a school board meeting — accusing elected officials of not doing enough to support their school community.

STEM administrators and DougCo school board members are at odds over the length of the school’s charter. A shorter length of charter results in less funding for the school, according to STEM leadership. The debate comes while the shooting is still fresh in the community's mind.

Students and parents demonstrated outside district headquarters Tuesday, showing support for their school.

Parents said they can’t understand why the school board will not grant a 5-year charter to what they call a high-performing school.

“It just doesn’t make any sense. Why you would actually cut it short when it’s actually doing so much better than some of the other schools?" STEM parent Claudia Villa said.

In a letter to STEM School leadership, school board president David Ray wrote, “... STEM was not willing to accept the resolution passed in January that recommend a three-year renewal term.” Negotiations, Ray explained, were interrupted by the school shooting in May.

The charter expires at the end of the month. That short timeline prompted board members to consider just a one-year extension to provide more time to negotiate terms of the charter, according to Ray’s letter.

“I think it’s disgusting that they’re trying to use this tragedy as a reason to take away the extra couple years that they would’ve had on their charter,” STEM parent Brittany Hasworth said.

STEM parents said they believe political forces are at play behind the scenes.

Many who gathered could not attend the meeting in the school board chambers because the room was at capacity -- every seat was occupied. A monitor was set up on the foyer of the administration building for an overflow crowd.

As of late Tuesday, no vote had been initiated and meeting was ongoing.

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