Colorado commits $10M for school safety, mental health

Officials vote unanimously for funding

By Amir Vera, CNN
CNN video

DENVER - Officials in Colorado made school safety and mental health a priority Monday, nearly a week after a Denver-area school shooting left one dead and eight injured.

A gunman started shooting during an English class last Tuesday at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Douglas County. The gunman was tackled by other students who wrestled the gun away.

As a result of the shooting, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously for a $10 million commitment to school safety and mental health. The commissioners will discuss how the one-time lump sum will be spent at their May 28 meeting.

"The $10 million proposal is an opportunity to continue to find ways to provide security (so) that students can go to school, (and) they can learn in an environment in which they feel safe," said Commissioner Lora Thomas.

The money would come from the county's general fund and reserves, according to CNN affiliate KMGH. The commissioners said the county will have extra property tax revenue they can use to replenish the redirected funds because of increases in property values.

Douglas County Superintendent Thomas Tucker emphasized during the meeting the need for more security at schools and urged others to "put away partisan politics" in making a decision to safeguard their schools.

 

STEM did not have a school resource officer on duty during shooting

 

At the time of the shooting, STEM School did not have a school resource officer from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office on duty, according to a statement released by Sheriff Tony Spurlock.

Instead, the school had a private guard providing security.

The school and sheriff's office had a dispute in May 2018 because the security officer assigned, who was splitting time between STEM and another school, became sick. STEM wanted the sheriff to reimburse them for the months the officer was out sick and raised concerns about expectations of the officer not being met, according to the sheriff's statement.

Spurlock's statement said the school mainly used the resource officer to do outside security and traffic control instead of the duties the officer was meant to do, such as "investigate law enforcement and public safety issues."

By June 2018, Spurlock's statement said, he sent a letter to STEM saying his office wouldn't renew their agreement for the school resource officer. The school hired "off-duty deputies as traffic control," the statement read.

 

STEM to have modified schedule this week

 

According to a letter sent to parents on Saturday, the STEM school will have a modified schedule this week.

Schools were closed Monday, the letter said. Tuesday, the school will be open for kindergarten to second grade until noon and third to fifth grade until 2 p.m.

Elementary students will have a half day on Wednesday and Thursday, the letter said. Secondary students, sixth through 12th grade, will operate on a modified schedule.

Graduation rehearsal and Senior Honor Night are set for Thursday.

 

Celebration of life service, suspects to appear in court the same day

 

The celebration of life service remembering Kendrick Castillo, who lunged at the gunman, is scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. MST.

Castillo, 18, was an only child, but his friends, including the members of the school's robotics team, were like his siblings, his father John Castillo said. They would host holiday gift exchanges at his home, shared his toys as a child and would pay for a friend's movie tickets if someone didn't have money.

The same day of Castillo's service, the two suspects -- 18-year-old student Devon Erickson and 16-year-old Alec McKinney -- are expected to hear the charges against them. They are students at the school and face murder and attempted murder charges, according to George Brauchler, the local district attorney.

 

Final student released from hospital

 

All students taken to area hospitals after the shooting at STEM School have now been released, according to a spokesperson for Littleton Adventist Hospital.

The last student was discharged Sunday, said the hospital's Wendy Forbes.

CNN's Marlena Baldacci, Sara Weisfeldt, Dalila Paul and Scott McLean contributed to this report.

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