By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – Dr. Alex Marrero will be the next superintendent of Denver Public Schools. The DPS Board of Education voted 6-1 to appoint the former interim superintendent of the City School District of New Rochelle in New York. While he had much support among board members, a local education group says this isn’t an appropriate time to select the new leader of DPS.

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

The Latino Education Council wrote a letter to DPS Wednesday in a final plea to convince the board to delay their vote. The LEC expressed concerns about the superintendent search previously.

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In a letter to DPS Board President Olson and Denver Public School Board Members, the Latino Education Council wrote:  

“The recent federal lawsuit filed against Dr. Marrero (in his individual and official capacity), and the new allegations of possible sexual misconduct against DPS Director Anderson, have further distressed the citizens of Denver.”

A federal lawsuit accuses Marrero and other defendants of silencing and impeding the New Rochelle school district’s medical director’s, Brook Balchan, efforts during the pandemic. In addition, the LEC said the board’s lack of transparency in responding to these matters has eroded confidence in the board of education.

“He’s going to have to be dealing not only with the DPS, but also with all the allegations in New Rochelle,” said Dr. Martha Urioste, Latino Education Council member and DPS educator of 45 years.

In the letter, the LEC conveyed concerns to DPS that Marrero would be consumed with responding to interrogatories, participating in his depositions and committing many hours with his attorneys.

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Urioste also said she’s unsure of how qualified Marrero is to lead a district as diverse as DPS.

“There’s hundreds of language groups in DPS. I’m not sure that’s what he had in New Rochelle. It’s a very complicated district,” said Urioste. “There were only 10,000 students in New Rochelle. In Denver Public Schools there’s almost 100,000.”
 
DPS board member Dr. Barbara O’Brien shared similar sentiments during the vote Thursday. She was the only member to vote against appointing Marrero.

“I don’t think our process produced the kind of stellar applicants for superintendent Denver Public Schools that we deserve to get. I think we should have someone coming forward with much more experience,” said O’Brien. “From the very beginning, I couldn’t understand what he really stood for, other than the same things most candidates say.”

In a statement to CBS4, DPS said they have confidence in Dr. Marrero, and stand behind the choice for superintendent. Board members in favor of Marrero, like Scott Baldermann, shared their support ahead of the vote.

“This is our opportunity to promote new policies and a new vision based on equity for Denver students. You are the right person to lead that charge, Dr. Marrero,” said Baldermann.

After the vote, Marrero said a few words to the board. He acknowledged the barriers that students in larger urban districts often face and his commitment to equity. He said Denver Public Schools will be the nation’s model school district.

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Marrero’s appointment will be effective July 6. 

Tori Mason