Prime administrator over McAuliffe Worldwide banned from DPS services

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As a part of the continued fallout from an investigation into using a seclusion room at Denver’s McAuliffe Worldwide Faculty, the college district has barred an administrator answerable for overseeing the college from all district services and knowledge techniques.

The administrator is Colleen O’Brien, the chief director of the Northeast Denver Innovation Zone. She oversees three semi-autonomous Denver colleges, together with McAuliffe, a well-liked center faculty that has been concerned in a number of high-profile controversies this yr.

Households and educators at McAuliffe have been on edge for months and staged a “stroll in” Tuesday morning to protest what they see as Denver Public Colleges’ makes an attempt to dismantle their faculty. Principal Kurt Dennis was fired in July after he spoke up about gun violence and security issues, and the district opened an investigation into the improper use of seclusion rooms at McAuliffe in August. McAuliffe’s innovation standing — which permits the college additional flexibility in scheduling and programming — can be up within the air proper now.

The actions towards O’Brien seem like additional fallout from the seclusion room investigation.

“After a radical and cautious overview of the outcomes from the continued investigation, it has change into clear that the actions and oversight below Dr. Colleen O’Brien have been in direct battle with district coverage and the values and requirements we uphold in Denver Public Colleges,” the district mentioned in an announcement Tuesday.

O’Brien didn’t reply Tuesday to cellphone calls and messages searching for remark.

Anne Rowe, the chairperson of the innovation zone’s board and a former president of the DPS faculty board, mentioned in an interview {that a} district administrator knowledgeable O’Brien of the ban at a DPS faculty board assembly Monday. O’Brien was on the assembly to offer public remark.

“What they’ve carried out has made it unimaginable for Colleen to do the work that she does rather well to assist our colleges, our educators, and our children,” Rowe mentioned, “and we’re working actually laborious as a board to make sure that assist continues till we discover a decision to this.”

It’s not clear which insurance policies have been the idea for the district’s motion towards O’Brien. O’Brien is an worker of the zone, not of DPS. Even when the district concludes that she violated DPS coverage, she wouldn’t be topic to firing the identical manner as Dennis, the previous principal.

“Nonetheless,” the district mentioned in its assertion, “the colleges inside NDIZ are stuffed with DPS workers and college students. Given the gravity of those findings, it was essential to take applicable motion to restrict Dr. O’Brien’s entry to college students and employees, in addition to pupil data.”

Final yr, DPS banned vocal district critic and faculty founder Brandon Pryor from DPS property, however a federal decide overturned that ban in January.

On the faculty board assembly Monday, O’Brien expressed issues that McAuliffe educators have been fearful, questioning when the interior investigation would finish. She additionally requested that DPS rent a 3rd celebration as an alternative to conduct an investigation.

Rowe mentioned the zone board needs the identical factor and “is within the means of partaking with an impartial investigator” to look into using the seclusion rooms.

Rowe mentioned DPS not too long ago gave her and one other zone board member a 2½-page abstract of the investigation, which DPS says is ongoing. The abstract mentioned that using the seclusion rooms had violated district coverage, Rowe mentioned. She mentioned it was clear that DPS needed the zone board to take motion concerning O’Brien based mostly on the abstract.

“We mentioned, ‘Properly, as a governing board, we want to see the proof and the information that underlie this abstract of findings out of your inner investigation,’” Rowe mentioned.

However finally, Rowe mentioned DPS denied that request.

In its assertion, DPS mentioned its ban of O’Brien “doesn’t replicate DPS’ view of (the zone) as a complete, however is a direct response to the actions and selections of the person in query.

“We stay dedicated to the rules of innovation and excellence in schooling and consider that this resolution is a step in the direction of upholding these beliefs,” the assertion mentioned. “We sit up for future collaborations that align with our shared objectives for instructional excellence.”

Melanie Asmar is a senior reporter for Chalkbeat Colorado, overlaying Denver Public Colleges. Contact Melanie at

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