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Response to Shooting at Denver’s East High School – A message from AEA President Linnea Reed-Ellis


Yet again our community has been impacted by gun violence. Below is the communication from our union colleagues at CEA and DCTA.

In light of yet another act of gun violence today in one of Colorado’s public schools, Denver’s East High School, we’ve issued a public statement in collaboration with Denver Classrooms Teachers Association.

We know that every time there is a school shooting, many of our educators and students are re-traumatized. The NEA has a thorough collection of resources that you and your community might find useful: www.nea.org/gunviolence.

Please know that you are in our thoughts, and we are here for you if we can be helpful in any way.

Colorado Educators Respond to Act of Gun Violence at East High School

DENVER — The Denver Classroom Teachers Association and the Colorado Education Association are devastated to announce another incidence of gun violence at one of our schools, East High School, this morning.

The two administrators who were shot by a juvenile student are currently in the hospital, and we hope that they will both make a full recovery. The DCTA is working in full coordination with the district to ensure, as best as we are able, the safety of our students, educators, staff members, and the community at large.

“Today’s act of gun violence marks the second school shooting at East High School just this year. It is unacceptable that our students and educators are forced to work in environments where we fundamentally cannot ensure their safety from gun violence,” said Rob Gould, special education teacher and president of the DCTA.

“Our thoughts and prayers are not enough. They do not capture the agony and anger we feel. And they do nothing to prevent this violence from being inflicted someplace else in America—tomorrow, next week, or a couple of months from now. Our students, families and colleagues deserve action so they can live and learn in safe schools and communities,” said NEA president Becky Pringle.

Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the Colorado Education Association added, “This is not just an East High problem, this is not just a Denver problem. This is a Colorado problem and a national problem. But certain legislators refuse to listen to our students, our educators, and our communities and instead listen to powerful and well-funded gun lobby groups. Together, they insist on fighting against common sense gun legislation – like expanding extreme risk protection orders, and raising the age for purchasing a firearm. They are standing in the way of creating meaningful change and keeping our students safe.”

Though our nation’s surge in gun violence is a complex and multifaceted problem, it is not an unsolvable problem. Some answers put forth by educators include funding for co-responders, mental health professionals, and SROs (where requested by staff and students); as well as state and federal legislation to keep guns out of the hands of minors.

“There isn’t just one solution to this complicated problem. While there is common sense gun reform legislation that needs to pass, we also need to focus on each school’s particular needs, and to make sure the entire community is involved when crafting solutions,” said Gould.

The students of East High School and their peers see this clearly. Earlier this month, they marched from their school steps to the South Steps of the Colorado Capitol to make their voices heard. A fellow student had just been shot and killed on school grounds and later died from his injuries. They were upset, traumatized, and furious that the adults in leadership positions have not done enough to keep them safe.

“As educators we fear the possibility of violence every day. Why do our students feel so unsafe outside of the classroom that they feel like they need to be carrying a gun?” said Gould. “Our leaders need to ask these same questions, and to listen to the educators and students who deal with this every day. This status quo is as unacceptable as it is preventable. If all of our elected leaders would truly lead and implement the legislation we need to keep us all safe, teachers could focus on teaching and students could focus on learning, free of the fear and trauma that’s become synonymous with our schools.”


The DCTA and the CEA are in support of the following gun violence prevention legislation being considered at the Colorado State Legislature:

  • HB 23-1219: Waiting Period to Deliver a Firearm
  • HB 23-1230: Prohibit Assault Weapons in Colorado
  • SB 23-168: Gun Violence Victims’ access to the Judicial System
  • SB 23-169: Increasing Minimum Age to Purchase Firearms
  • SB 23-170: Extreme Risk Protection Order Petitions


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