Aurora teacher returns from leave after activist facing drug charges allowed to speak to class

AURORA, Colo. — A Sky Vista Middle School teacher returned to work after being placed on administrative leave following concerns surrounding a controversial guest speaker allowed to speak to students.

Asia Lyons returned to the classroom November 30. Cherry Creek School District officials placed her on administrative leave October 6, after parents questioned Lyons' decision to invite a self-described peace activist facing drug-related charges to speak to students about social justice.

District officials said no disciplinary action was taken against Lyons. However, the 6th-grade teacher received a letter of warning regarding the matter.

Administration officials took action against Lyons after parents complained to school board members about the guest speaker who goes by the name of "Queen Phoenix." 

The Denver woman, whose real name is not known, describes herself as a peace activist and community organizer. She publicly raised funds for a defense lawyer as she faces what she describes as "exaggerated marijuana charges."

The Denver activist talked to sixth graders in September during a class called extended core taught by Lyons. The class is meant to engage students in real-world learning. 

Parents at an October board meeting say they were never told that Queen Phoenix would be speaking to their students.

District officials said Friday they would be working with staff at the school to ensure they know and follow policies around getting approval for speakers and for communicating with parents about controversial subject matter.

The district does not have a specific policy in place that prevents speakers with criminal records, except sex offenders, from being in a classroom.
 

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