HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Students across Douglas County walked out of school Monday to make their voices heard following the decision by the school district's Board of Education to fire now-former superintendent Corey Wise on Friday.
"He's done so much for the teachers here," junior Audrey said Monday.
She was one of several hundred students Denver7 saw walk out of Highlands Ranch High School shortly after 1 p.m.
Her mother is a teacher at the school, so she was more knowledgeable about the vote than some of her peers.
A lot of people don't really care about the school board. But there are quite a few teachers and parents and students who genuinely know Corey Wise and loved him," Audrey said.
Students from Cresthill Middle School down the street also joined the growing crowd of high school students.
"It's great to be here. It's surreal. And I'm just glad that we're finally being heard," Emily, an eighth-grader, said.
She admitted she and her friends didn't know much about Wise or the school board prior to Friday night's meeting, but what they saw and heard made them want to speak up.
"We are not going to stand before injustice, discrimination and abuse of powerful posts. We are students and this is our school. We should have a say in what happens," Emily said.
On the sidelines cheering in support of the students were parents like Craig Mason, who says the board should've given Wise a better shot before terminating his contract.
"I'm an employee. I have a job. You guys have jobs. I mean, how would you feel you're just let go with not having a chance to get on a performance plan, present your side of it," he said.
Emily says she and her friends now plan to pay more attention to the school board and the decisions that affect them.
"I feel like we all should, from this point onward, take this as an opportunity to learn more about the smaller injustices that we might face even every day," she said.
In response to Monday's walkouts, DCSD sent Denver7 the following statement on behalf of board president Mike Peterson, which was a direct quote from a statement sent to families Friday night following the vote:
“I recognize this is an emotional time for our community and want you to know I am committed to restoring peace and unity to our school district with a continued focus on educating our children.”
Other parents have reached out to Denver7, expressing concern Monday's walkouts were orchestrated by adults, not students, and that these adults encouraged students to walk out of class.
Students Denver7 spoke with say they helped coordinate the walkouts at multiple schools over social media.
Three DCSD classroom teachers have resigned since Friday out of around 3,500, a district spokesperson said.
School board member David Ray also announced that DCSD Special Education Services Officer Sid Rundle was leaving the district effective Feb. 18.