Movement Building

Historic Milestones for Padres & Jóvenes Unidos

1992- Padres Unidos born out of struggle:

Parents organize to remove the principal at Valverde Elementary School for punishing Spanish-speaking students by forcing them to eat their lunches on the cafeteria floor. After their victory, the parents decide to continue organizing and recruiting parents. Padres Unidos is officially founded.

1996- 5000 students walk out of school, and Denver Public Schools is declared guilty of racial discrimination:

Padres Unidos, a part of a coalition, helps organize over 5,000 students to walk out of school and protest substandard education for Latinos in Denver Public Schools. From a suit filed by Padres Unidos two years earlier, the federal Office of Civil Rights finds DPS guilty of discrimination against Latino students.

1998- Parents organize for deported student’s return and win larger reforms:

A Lincoln High School student is arrested at school, turned over to the police, and deported—a practice that is against the law. Parents of Padres Unidos organize for the student’s return. They go on to win reforms changing the relationship between Denver Public Schools, the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Denver Police Department.

2000- Youth form Jóvenes Unidos:

Parents and students organize to demand reforms at Cole Middle School, then Colorado's lowest performing middle school. From that struggle, the youth decide that they need their own student-led organization to work alongside their parents. Jóvenes Unidos is born.

2001- Immigrant families work to open district’s first dual-language elementary school:

Mexican immigrant parents research, develop, and work to open Academia Ana Marie Sandoval, the first dual-language/Montessori elementary school in the district. The school would provide a high-quality education for all students—whether their native language was Spanish or English.

2004- Jóvenes Unidos publishes groundbreaking North High School report: 

Students of Jóvenes Unidos survey over half of the student body at North High School and produce a groundbreaking report showing that 93% of students want to go to college, yet few are being prepared to do so. The report lays out the students’ demands for reform and kicks off a reform movement to turn the school around, demanding a college preparatory education.

2007- PJU wins new graduation requirements that prepare students for college:

PJU wins the passage of new graduation requirements for Denver Public Schools. The requirements will better prepare all students for college by aligning high school graduation requirements to college entrance requirements and guidelines.

2008- PJU wins historic Denver Public Schools commitment to move away from zero tolerance discipline:

After a 6-year collaborative campaign to end the zero tolerance approach to school discipline that targets students of color, PJU wins new discipline policies for Denver Public Schools that focus on keeping students in school and learning. The new discipline policy was designed to eliminate racial disparities in discipline and stop police involvement for minor misbehavior - instead - to make schools safer with by using restorative justice policies.

2013- Padres & Jóvenes Unidos wins Intergovernmental Agreement:

DPS and the Denver Police Department sign their Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) containing policies and protections to ensure the end of unnecessary student referrals to law enforcement, to eliminate racial disparities in discipline and to limit the role of police in schools.

2016- Padres & Jóvenes Unidos members save Breakfast After the Bell: 

16,000 free student lunches were saved in a herculean effort from PJU members, as legislators tried to end the program, Breakfast After the Bell, right at the end of the legislative session.

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