After a 5-year-old Colorado girl was suspended for bringing a Princess bubble gun to school, one Denver organization is working to ban early-childhood suspensions and expulsions.
"You would think you didn't need a law to protect very, very young children from being unnecessarily removed from their classroom and their right to education, but we feel this is necessary," said Daniel Kim, Director of Youth Organizing for Padres & Jovenes Unidos.
Kim said they are organizing to propose legislation to ban preschool to second grade suspension and expulsions, except in the most extreme cases.
Padres & Jovenes Unidos tracks school records in the annual school discipline report card, and the most recent numbers showed that Brighton 27J, the District that suspended the girl with a bubble gun, is in the top 25 districts in Colorado for expulsions and referrals to law enforcement.
"These are red flags for a district," said Kim.
But again on Wednesday, Kevin Denke, Brighton 27J's spokesman refused interviews and in an e-mail stated, "we will not be commenting any further on the matter."
Denke also refused to answer questions about how many students have been suspended for bringing toy guns to school.
Denver7 has filed an open records request for those numbers and received this response: "We have received your Open Records Request and will fill this request within the statutory time frame of three working days."
Melissa Arreola is a parent organizer with Padres & Jovenes Unidoes who surveyed hundreds of people with young children in Southwest Denver and found a troubling trend: off-the-book suspensions for minor issues.