Roughly 50 people arrived at Arapahoe School in support of a planned student-led walkout Friday morning. The walk-out and protest were in response to a group of students that had been expelled.
According to one parent, 7 middle school students had been suspended and expelled initially, but 2 had recently been reinstated. The parent of one of the remaining five suspended students told County 10, “There was no due process. The school acted before they knew everything that happened. There is supposed to be a 3-strike policy and this would have been their first strike.”
Parents and community members were greeted by a large entry-gate that had been set up to block the school parking lot and was being protected by several Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) officers.
A BIA officer insisted vocally to the crowd that during the walkout, parents and community members were not allowed on school grounds and that no students would be allowed to exit the school parking lot.
Arapahoe Middle School students ran out of the building shortly after 10:00 a.m. and lined the opposite side of the fence. Voices were raised one at a time against the school policy and BIA officers on scene. “This is a prison” one parent exclaimed. “Sue the school,” another said. A prayer, songs, and chanting took place between roughly 10:10 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Shortly before 11:00 a.m., the protest took a physical turn. A female middle school student attempted to climb the large fence, off of school campus. A group of BIA officers pulled the girl off of the fence by her legs, causing her to flip with her legs in the air, off of the fence. While it appeared the officers caught the girl, she did vocally confirm that she was injured. An ambulance was called for the girl, who could be seen limping heavily on one leg.
After that point many students and protesters became emotional. One man paced and shouted expletives at school officials, several students embraced and hugged. After the girl had been removed from the fence, several other students found their way around it, meeting with the supporters off of school campus.
The official cause of the expulsion was not immediately clear or confirmed. One school official on scene declined to comment on the matter aside from telling County 10 that there will be a school board meeting to go over everything and decide the fate of the 5 suspended students on Monday. Additional attempts to reach out to the school this afternoon have gone unanswered, however, an update to the Arapahoe School Facebook page said that students were being released early today.