Angels on Air

Angels on Air

2017-2018 School Year

9/15/17

Letters from DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg

Sept. 14, 2017

Dear East Families:

We want to update you on the current status of the investigation regarding recent events on the cheer team at East.

First of all, we want to let you know that we understand how challenging this period of uncertainty is. Please know that we are committed to reaching a resolution as soon as reasonably possible. Here is where we are currently:

As you know, we engaged the firm of Davis Graham & Stubbs (DGS) to conduct an independent fact-finding investigation of the situation – to determine what happened, who knew about what happened, and how leaders at both the school and district level responded to any information that they knew about.

We have continued to work closely with the Denver Police Department and District Attorney’s office while they pursue their investigations into this matter. To date, law enforcement has not made any determinations regarding the conduct of the individuals involved. It is our hope that law enforcement will complete their work soon. That then will enable DGS to complete and release their independent report and for us to make any decisions pursuant to the information in the report. We continue to believe it is best that law enforcement complete their findings before DPS makes its own determinations.

We also want to reiterate that the placing of an employee on leave is standard practice in an investigation of this type. It does not imply or prejudge in any way the actions of the individuals or what the investigation might determine.

We will work to conclude this as quickly, fairly and transparently as possible, and we will release publicly the DGS report. We thank you for your work and patience throughout this process. Please feel free to reach out to us directly if you have any follow up questions.

Best,

Tom 


 

14 de septiembre de 2017

Estimadas Familias de East:

Queremos actualizarlos sobre el estado actual de la investigación de los acontecimientos recientes en East relacionados con el equipo de porristas.

En primer lugar, queremos que sepan que entendemos lo difícil que es este período de incertidumbre. Sepan que hemos asumido el compromiso de llegar a una solución tan pronto como sea posible. Esta es la situación actual:

Como saben, contratamos al bufete de abogados Davis Graham & Stubbs (DGS) para que llevara a cabo una investigación independiente de los hechos, a fin de determinar lo que pasó, quién sabía lo que había sucedido y la manera en que los líderes tanto de la escuela como a nivel del Distrito respondieron ante cualquier información que hubieran recibido.

Hemos continuado trabajando estrechamente con el Departamento de Policía de Denver y con la Fiscalía del Distrito durante su investigación de este hecho. Hasta la fecha, las autoridades competentes no han llegado a ninguna conclusión con respecto a la conducta de las personas involucradas. Esperamos que las autoridades competentes finalicen su labor pronto. Eso permitirá que DGS pueda finalizar y publicar su informe independiente, y que nosotros podamos tomar decisiones de conformidad con los datos del informe. Seguimos convencidos de que lo mejor es que las autoridades competentes finalicen su investigación antes de que DPS tome sus propias decisiones.

También queremos reiterar que otorgarle una licencia de ausencia a un empleado es una práctica estándar durante las investigaciones de este tipo. no pretende prejuzgar ni implicar en modo alguno las acciones de estas personas ni lo que pueda determinar la investigación.

Trabajaremos para concluir este asunto lo más rápidamente, y de la manera más justa y transparente posible, y publicaremos los resultados del informe de DGS. Gracias por su labor y paciencia durante este proceso. No duden en comunicarse conmigo directamente si tienen alguna pregunta.

Atentamente,

Tom.


 

Sept. 6, 2017

Dear East Community:

We wanted to update you on the current status of our investigation into recent events at East regarding the cheer team. As we announced on Aug. 25, we have asked the law firm of Davis Graham & Stubbs (DGS) to conduct an independent fact-finding investigation to determine who knew what, when, both at the school and the district levels, with regard to the practice of forced splits on the cheer team, the safety of the students and the concerns of the parents, and what action was taken. DGS is in the process of conducting the investigation; this includes interviewing families and students from the cheer team, and reviewing related documents. DGS will also interview employees who were involved, or who may have information that is material to the investigation. We are committed to a thorough, fair and transparent investigation before we take any next steps. We understand the deep concerns in the East community about urgency and fairness here.

At this time, the Denver Police Department is still conducting their investigation. Consistent with their request and our standard practice, we work closely with DPD and allow them to take the lead in cases where there is a criminal investigation. Accordingly, while the District wishes to conclude the investigation as soon as possible, we are seeking to respect law enforcement’s requests regarding the timing of our interviews. We thank the East community for its patience while the investigation is in process. As we have emphasized previously, once the investigation is complete, we will make the results public.

Best,
Tom


Aug. 25, 2017

Dear East High School Families,

First, I really want to say thank you to the teachers, counselors and staff at East, and to the entire East community, for the way you have come together over the last several days to face a very challenging situation.

Yesterday, our counselors brought together the young women from the East cheer team and spent the better part of the day with them to help them heal, to come together as a team and to address any concerns, fears and issues they might have. That is our first and foremost duty, to make sure that our students are being supported during this very difficult time.

I am grateful to the entire East community for putting the needs of our kids front and center.

I also want to talk about the timeline of events that occurred leading to today, to the best of my knowledge. As you know, there is an investigation underway and we are learning new things every day. I’m updating you today with the understanding and the reality that, in the course of an investigation, we will learn new things. What I am stating is to the best of my knowledge today.

This is my understanding of events: At a cheer camp at East High School in the second week of June, at least some members of the cheer team were subjected to a technique known as “forced splits.” This was captured on video.

I want to be very clear that this technique is a dangerous and unacceptable. We do not permit forced split or any practice or technique that puts the physical safety or emotional well-being of any of our kids at risk.

On Thursday, June 15, the mother of one of the young women on the cheer team sent a letter to the athletic director at East that raised her deep concerns about the use of forced splits. This communication included at least one of the videos that some of you have now seen. Immediately afterward, the next morning, the East principal, athletic director and an assistant principal met with the young woman, the parents and the cheer coaches to discuss the concerns the mother raised. At that meeting, the school leadership team believed they had addressed and resolved the parents’ and student’s concerns.

It is now clear they had not. It is also clear that the decision made at that time not to terminate the employment of the cheer coach, Mr. Ozell Williams, was wrong. What is shown in the videos is extraordinarily distressing. At that time, the decision should have been made to terminate the employment of the coach and, I believe, to report what was observed on the video to police.

This week, on Tuesday afternoon, we received a records request from the media asking for information about the cheer coach, including any letters from cheer parents and any videos. Up until that time, neither I, nor any of my senior team, was aware of the existence of the videos or the practice of forced splits. We received the videos late Tuesday night, and on Wednesday morning, immediately began our investigation. At the same time, Denver Police informed us on Wednesday morning that they were initiating an investigation, based on a complaint made to Denver Human Services about forced splits at the cheer team practice.

Our standard practice with Denver Police is that, when they launch a criminal investigation, we collaborate very closely with them and allow them to take the lead because of the possibility of criminal prosecution. Our collaborative practice has been that they interview individuals related to the case and, while they are doing their investigation, we do not release information or perform our own interviews. When we began working with Denver Police, we also made the decision Wednesday to place five individuals on leave. We believed this was necessary to protect the well-being of students on the cheer team and to conduct a fair and thorough investigation of what had transpired.

That brings us to today. Having now worked closely with police over the last two days and looked closely at the evidence that’s been gathered, we have made the decision today to terminate the coach of the cheer squad, Mr. Ozell Williams. He is no longer an employee of DPS.

We have also made the decision to employ an outside law firm – Davis, Graham & Stubbs – to perform an investigation of exactly who knew what, when, both at the school and the district level, with regard to the practice of forced splits on the cheer team, the safety of the students and the concerns of the parents. We will ensure the investigation is conducted thoroughly and fairly, and we pledge to make the results public.

Consistent with our shared core value of accountability in the Denver Public Schools, all employees are accountable for their actions and will be held accountable for them.

On a personal note, as hard as it was, I have watched all the videos. As a superintendent, as a father and as an athlete, they are deeply disturbing. What happened was wrong. Under no circumstances should a young person be in a situation where they are suffering physical or emotional harm. Under no circumstances should a young person be forced to continue any activity beyond the point they have expressed the desire to stop.

I appreciate that our athletes push themselves hard to fulfill their full potential and our coaches play a critical role in this. But that is not what this is about. This was way beyond that line.

I want to say this as clearly as I can: We were wrong not to have taken action in June and we are doing everything in our power to ensure the safety and well-being of every one of our students.

Again, we are committed to making the results of our independent investigation public as soon as they are available. In the meantime, we will continue to share information with you as soon as we can, to the extent that we can.

Best,
Tom Boasberg
Superintendent


 

UPDATE: DPS Statement Regarding Allegations at East

DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg released the following update on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, regarding allegations involving East High School:

“First, I want to thank our community for your concern for the safety and well-being of our students. Please know we are supporting the Denver Police in the investigation of these allegations and we are doing all that we can to support our students and families at East and throughout the district.

We have sent notification to our athletic directors emphasizing that DPS does not allow the use of “forced splits” or any other activity that puts a student’s physical or mental health at risk, or in which a student is forced to perform an exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop. I want to reiterate that this applies not just to athletics, but throughout our school communities.

This morning, counselors at East, with our district support team, worked with all the members of the cheer team — to bring them together as team, to address the students’ concerns, and to emphasize our commitment to their safety and well-being. Deputy Superintendent Susana Cordova and I also personally called the parents of every member of the East cheer team to offer support and answer their questions.

We know how deeply concerned our community is about the events that took place. We are reviewing the supports and resources currently in place for both students and educators, and we will propose additional efforts to ensure our school communities are educated about, and empowered to prevent, traumatic situations such as those depicted in the videos of East cheer practice.

We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all our students, at East High School and throughout Denver Public Schools. We will provide additional information when we can.”


 

El superintendente de DPS, Tom Boasberg, publicó la siguiente actualización el jueves, 24 de agosto de 2017, respecto a las alegaciones relacionadas con la Escuela Preparatoria East:

“En primer lugar, deseo agradecer a nuestra comunidad por preocuparse por la seguridad y el bienestar de nuestros estudiantes. Quiero que sepan que estamos apoyando a la Policía de Denver en la investigación de estas alegaciones y estamos haciendo todo lo posible para apoyar a nuestros estudiantes y familias de East y de todo el Distrito.

Hemos enviado un comunicado a nuestros directores deportivos en el que se destaca que DPS no permite forzar a los estudiantes a “abrirse de piernas” o cualquier otra actividad que ponga en peligro su salud física y mental o que fuerce a los alumnos a realizar un ejercicio que obviamente no quieran hacer. Deseo reiterar que esto aplica no solo a los deportes, sino también a todas nuestras comunidades escolares.

Esta mañana, los orientadores de East, junto con el equipo de apoyo del Distrito, trabajaron con todos los integrantes del equipo de porristas a fin de unirlos como equipo, abordar las inquietudes de los estudiantes y hacer hincapié en nuestro compromiso por su seguridad y bienestar. La superintendente adjunta Susana Cordova y yo mismo también hemos llamado a los padres de todos los integrantes del equipo de porristas de East a fin de ofrecer nuestro apoyo y responder sus preguntas.

Sabemos que nuestra comunidad está profundamente preocupada por lo acontecido. Estamos revisando los apoyos y recursos que ofrecemos actualmente a los estudiantes y maestros, y propondremos esfuerzos adicionales para asegurar que nuestras comunidades escolares reciban la educación y el empoderamiento necesarios para prevenir situaciones traumáticas tales como las presentadas en los videos del entrenamiento de porristas de East”.

Tenemos el compromiso de garantizar la seguridad y el bienestar de todos nuestros estudiantes de la Escuela Preparatoria East y de las Escuelas Públicas de Denver. Les proveeremos más información cuando podamos”.


 

Aug. 23, 2017

Dear East High School Families,

Thank you for your support of our school and your students as we begin the 2017-18 school year.

Please know that the safety of your children is our number one priority. As some of you may know, we have become aware of an exercise used at cheer practices this summer. Earlier today, Denver Police and DPS Safety began an investigation into the concerns associated with this exercise.

In order to conduct a fair and thorough investigation, we have placed Principal Andy Mendelsberg, Assistant Principal Lisa Porter, Cheer Coach Ozell Williams, Assistant Cheer Coach Mariah Cladis and DPS Deputy General Counsel Michael Hickman on leave.

This is standard practice in an investigation of this type. It does not imply or prejudge in any way the actions of the individuals or what the investigation might determine. Please know that we will share the results of the investigation as soon as possible.

During this time, Assistant Principal Jason Maclin, a senior leader at our school, will serve as interim principal. We will strive to ensure that every classroom at East remains focused on education.

While the investigation is ongoing, we are extremely limited in what we are able to share or discuss. Once the investigation is concluded, we will be able to address concerns and questions.

Finally, we want to reiterate our commitment to the safety of our students. We absolutely prohibit any practices that place our students’ physical and mental health in jeopardy. We do not and will not allow any situation in which a student is forced to perform an activity or exercise beyond the point at which they express their desire to stop.

We will provide additional information soon and encourage you to reach out to Interim Principal Maclin or to our Family and Community Helpline at 720-423-3054. In addition, we will ensure additional counseling supports are available at our school tomorrow for our students.

Best,
Tom Boasberg
Superintendent

Upcoming Events

PSAT – National Merit Qualifier Test will be October 14, 2017

Students will register during lunch at the Treasure’s Office – The Cost is $25.00

Junior registration begins on September 5, 2017

Sophomore registration begins on October 2, 2017

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Picture Code

 To order photos, pick up a picture package or click on the link

lifetouch

Enter the Picture Day ID: CG947384Y0

 

 

 

 

Student Assistance Fund

Do you need help with books, school materials, bus passes? Check out the Student Assistance Fund!

Or click on the link for more information: http://east.dpsk12.org/students/student-assistance-fund/

Student Assistance Fund Application 2017-2018   

Student Assistance Fund Application-Spanish 2017-2018

Year Book Information

Year book information for the upcoming school year can be found at:

http://eastangelusyearbook.weebly.com/

Senior Picture Requirements, Baby Pictures and Deadlines

Student Records

Do you need your student records? You can now request them online at : https://denverco.scriborder.com/