DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Public Schools is apologizing for a letter stating that teachers working on visas would be reported to the federal government if they went on strike. Denver teachers voted to strike earlier this week.
“This was wrong I cannot begin to express how shocked I was to learn of this message and how deeply sorry I am for the anxiety and fear this has caused our educators our family and our community,” DPS Superintendent Susana Cordova said at a press conference Friday afternoon.
It started Thursday night with a letter posted on social media by the Colorado People’s Alliance. It was a message from human resources directed to teachers working legally on visas saying should they strike they would be required to report them to immigration.
“This is not who we are,” Cordova said.
Jim Frausto and Meredith Miner are both Denver teachers, not directly impacted by the letter but speaking out on behalf of their co-workers who are.
“We have two from Spain, one from Venezuela and many from Mexico. It was very concerning to see that they were just concerned about their status because they thought they could be deported over this,” Frausto said.
The district now saying the error was a result of misinterpreted information. DPS is required to notify the U.S. Department of Labor if a strike takes place, but they are not required to name those involved.
“Trust has been broken, and it will take a lot to rebuild that trust not just with our teachers who are here on visas but all of our teachers,” Miner said.
Despite the apology, Miner says many of her colleagues continue to see the letter as a scare tactic and in the end could cost them qualified teachers.
“They are kind of global citizens trying to support all of our students and they want to be here for our kids but they are also away from their homes and their families and they’re making the sacrifice for our district seeing them so unsupported is really disheartening,” she said.
Denver teachers have overwhelmingly voted to strike but a walkout is on hold as the state considers whether to intervene.