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Judge denies Denver Public Schools request to delay release of meeting recording

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Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) A Denver District Court judge denied a request from Denver Public Schools to delay the release of a recording of a school board meeting where members privately discussed changes to district safety policies. The judge ordered the recording to be released in its entirety by July 11 at noon.

The school district will now ask the Colorado Court of Appeals to delay the district court’s order. If that request is granted, the recording might not be released until the appeals process plays out — which can take months or even years. 

At a Tuesday hearing on the school district’s request, called a motion to stay, the district’s lawyer argued before Judge Andrew J. Luxen that releasing the recording before the district has the chance to go through the proper appeals process would “make the appeal meaningless,” as releasing the recording would be “a final action,” attorney Jonathan Fero said. 

“If we have to release this document, then we don’t have effective appellate remedies,” Fero said. “There’s no point in appealing. So the harm to us is irreparable. You can’t undo that. Once you’ve released it, it’s out there, it’s over.”

Colorado Newsline and five other Colorado news outlets filed a lawsuit seeking the release of the recording of the private meeting, arguing the board violated the Colorado Open Meetings Law. The judge originally ordered the recording be released Monday at noon, but the district appealed that decision.

Steve Zansberg, a First Amendment lawyer who represents the media coalition in the case, said the plaintiffs have “a statutory right to receive this record on a timely basis while it is still newsworthy, while it is still the subject of ongoing public debate.”  

The DPS Board of Education met on March 23 and, with no public discussion, after meeting in private during a so-called executive session for five hours, unanimously adopted a new policy temporarily bringing armed police officers back to the district.

The decision came a day after an East High School student shot and injured two faculty members at the school. The board has since voted to bring armed officers back to schools permanently. 

Colorado Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.