Thousands Join Blacks in Denver Suit

Published January 1, 1998

A class action lawsuit brought by a few hundred black parents against the Denver Public Schools has been joined by nearly 3,500 new plaintiffs, including about one-third that are Hispanic and some that are white. This diversity shows that discontent with Denver’s public schools crosses racial lines, said Joe Rogers, the attorney who filed the lawsuit on May 7 last year.

In the suit, parents charge the Denver Public Schools with failure to adequately teach their children. As a remedy, the plaintiffs want to use their school tax dollars to send their children to other schools of their choice, whether public or private. (See “Black Parents File Class-Action Suit in Denver,” School Reform News, October 1997.)

“I am totally disgusted with Denver Public Schools,” one of the new plaintiffs told the Rocky Mountain News. Don Rodriguez, a grandfather of eight students who attend the Denver schools, said “I want a big shakeup. I want some accountability.”

The suit claims that poor and minority children, who comprise almost three-quarters of district enrollments, receive lower-quality instruction. Although district officials believe the problem is being addressed, Rogers does not agree.

“The crisis in this case is quality of education,” said Rogers. “It has been at crisis proportions.”

George A. Clowes is managing editor of School Reform News. His email address is [email protected].