Denver school board racism controversy spills into APS race


AURORA | A widely decried campaign criticizing school board candidates for Denver Public Schools also targeted at least one candidate for the Aurora Public Schools board.

The Denver controversy is over Hispanic school board candidates being depicted as white women in an effort to discredit them to Hispanic voters.

The controversy has mounted this week after a teacher union-funded campaign committee sent Denver residents a mailer denouncing three school board candidates. The mailer omitted Hispanic-sounding parts of their last names of two of the targeted candidates. Critics allege someone associated with the committee lightened the faces  of the Hispanic candidates.

Chalkbeat first reported that a union-funded campaign committee, Students Deserve Better, sent mailer advertisements that identified candidates Alexis Menocal Harrigan as “Alexis Harrigan” and Diana Romero Campbell as “Diana Campbell.” The move was widely condemned by Hispanic lawmakers as a tactic to erase the candidates’ heritage in a Hispanic-majority school district, eliciting an apology from the group. The candidates also alleged the advertisement whitened their faces to make them look less Hispanic.

Denver-based Students Deserve Better also sent mailers targeting the record of Aurora Public Schools Board of Education candidate Amber Drevon. Drevon served on the school board two years ago and is running to rejoin the school board.

“Amber Drevon hasn’t put our students or schools first,” the mailer reads.

Drevon, whose full name is Amber Lopez Drevon, also identifies as Latinx. She said she wasn’t aware of any other APS candidates targeted by the group, but didn’t speculate why she was apparently singled out.

“I was very surprised considering this is an organization based in Denver, and I’m not sure why they would involve themselves in an Aurora race,” told the Sentinel.

Drevon served on the APS school board for four years, from 2013 to 2017. The mailer claimed her track record would mean inequitable educations for Aurora youth, closing neighborhood schools and diverting money to “shady business arrangements,” and supporting video surveillance of students.

“I have no control over what anyone else says or does or why they do the things they do, only over my own campaign and actions,” she said. “I remain dedicated to ensuring equity and opportunity for all students in APS and will run my campaign accordingly.”