By Charmaine Lindsay, DPS District 5 board member
Recently, I had the honor of being chosen to represent District 5 as a Board of Education member for Denver Public Schools.
To be chosen over the other four very qualified and impressive candidates presents me with a great responsibility to the parents and students of District 5 and all DPS. For me, this outcome started with a phone call, from a longtime friend, asking me to apply to be on the school board.
I have lived in District 5 for 27 years, where the elected board member was resigning with 17 months left in his term. The phone call took place at 5 p.m. on a Thursday and the application was due at 5 p.m. on Friday. My husband and close family convinced me that I had a unique and serious commitment to K-12 children, and after several intense discussions, I chose to apply.
My sole motivation was and is to promote success for the children of DPS. I am especially concerned with the toll that the pandemic has had on our children and the political polarization that has taken place in our country over the past 20 years that has grown exponentially worse.
I chose to apply for this unique opportunity to serve children. I have worked as a volunteer, helping dozens of kids apply for college, take prep classes, secure financial aid, and participate in sports and extracurricular activities.
I have provided transportation, support, and guidance to my children, grandchildren, and their friends as they make their ways through the various schools in DPS. I have a granddaughter who teaches middle school, a daughter-in-law who has worked for DPS for more than 20 years, four children and stepchildren who are DPS graduates, and 10 grandchildren who attend or have graduated from DPS.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that between April 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, more than 140,000 children under age 18 in the United States lost a parent, custodial grandparent, or grandparent caregiver to COVID-19.
According to the CDC, in 2020 there were 91,799 drug overdose deaths, which was up 31% from 2019. With coinciding increases in health problems, overdoses, and incarceration due to drug-related offenses, the numbers of children in the already overburdened foster care system has also increased. In my professional career, the most hopeless cases I have had have been in dependency and neglect cases, where I have rarely seen a positive outcome.
As we are all facing these severe challenges, I am scared for our children. I am scared for my young grandchildren. I am scared for the LGBTQIA children that are being targeted and bullied by current political assaults on their right to exist and be included.
I am scared for the children who missed out on critical reading skills, taught in kindergarten and first grade. I am scared for the Latinos, the Black population, the immigrants, the poor, and the children who have lost grandparents and parents. All of us need to step up and confront these serious issues.
As a family law attorney in metro Denver, I have witnessed the devastation that the opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic have had on families and children. I have also witnessed how virtual education, during the pandemic, has left many young children lacking fundamental skills.
In the past two years I have represented families whose teenage children have attempted suicide, cut themselves, and overdosed on drugs. For the first time in 25 years of being a family law attorney, I have encountered multiple children who have lost young parents to opioids and COVID-19.
These cases are heartbreaking for children who do not know what school they will be attending in the fall or which family member they will be living with. It is my intention, entering my new position, to do everything I can to help students of all races, ethnicities, economic backgrounds, and LGBTQIA identities to achieve success.
I will strive to help DPS provide the mental and emotional support many children need. I am open to all input, discussion, and advice moving forward to achieve these goals and am thankful for this opportunity.
Charmaine Lindsay was selected by the Denver Public Schools Board of Education on June 9 to replace Rev. Brad Laurvick.