By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4)– Denver Public Schools announced Wednesday morning that Dr. Alex Marrero will be the next superintendent. The DPS Board of Education will vote on the selection June 3.

Marrero was introduced during a news conference at South High School.

“This is truly, truly a remarkable day for me as an educator, young scholar, leader turned visionary turned superintendent,” Marrero said.

The previous superintendent, Dr. Susana Cordova, left DPS late last year to move to a school district in Dallas. Marrero was one of three finalists for the opening.

At a press conference Wednesday, board members called Marrero a “unifier” and said he had a demonstrated record of being engaged with different communities and cultures.

“He’s a multi-lingual learner. He understands, while not exactly the same as some of our students, the value he has as we’ve heard are the same as many of our families,” said Dr. Carrie Olsen, president of the school board.

A Bronx native, Marrero most recently served as the interim superintendent for the City School District of New Rochelle, New York. Before that, he was an assistant superintendent and a principal.

When asked about his priorities when he begins with DPS, Marrero listed the return to school in August and addressing inequities and performance gaps, as well as a few other things.

(credit: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Marrero also reflected on his time as a student by telling a story about his hair. He said when he was young, his bangs often covered his eyes because his family couldn’t afford to take him to the barber shop, and because his hair acted as a barrier from the New York school system where he never felt he belonged.

“So, for those little Alexis that may be sitting on the grass right behind those cameras, and those across Denver, this is a testament that when there’s will, when there’s a commitment from educators, there is a way to make sure that you overcome,” he said.

The board’s decision to enter contract negotiations with Marrero comes after some community leaders recently urged them to reopen the search.

“They should have cast a wide net, especially in the Southwestern United States, for someone from a big city school district who has had a record of success working with minorities in general, and especially people of Mexican descent,” said Mike Cortés, executive director of CLLARO, the Colorado Latino Leadership, Advocacy, & Research Organization.

(credit: Hyoung Chang/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Cortés said he is apprehensive about the hire and hopes some of the issues that minority students have faced for decades in Denver will be properly addressed.

“We’ll support the superintendent. I am not prepared to support this board,” Cortés said.

In response to questions about those concerns, Olsen said she believes Marrero will inspire people to continue to do the best by their students and their faculty. Marrero said he welcomes the skepticism.

“That is what drives me,” he said. “That complex and being able to really pursue equity and excellence for all students.”

The Denver Classroom Teachers Association, the union representing Denver teachers, released a statement in support of the Marrero selection:

“We are supportive of the DPS Board’s decision to select Dr. Alex Marrero as the new superintendent of Denver Public Schools and look forward to partnering with Dr. Marrero to equitably address the needs of our students, educators and community members. Additionally, we are optimistic that the superintendent and the DPS School Board will work with us to dismantle systematic racism within education as a whole.”

 

Conor McCue