1859: The first school in Denver, the “Union School,” is established by Owen J. Goldrick. It is a private school and serves only 13 students. Other private schools open shortly thereafter to accommodate Denver’s rapidly growing population during the Gold Rush.
1861: The new territorial government establishes Goldrick as the Superintendent of Schools in Arapahoe County (which then encompassed Denver). The first two public school districts in Denver – District One on the East side of the city and District Two on the West side – are formed. Arapahoe School, the first-ever public school in Denver, is built.
1872-1893: Districts 17, 21 and 98 are formed to serve Denver’s booming population. All districts struggle to grow and improve their schools due to lack of funds.
1902: The 20th Amendment to the Constitution of the State of Colorado, known as the Rush Amendment, creates the City and County of Denver, separating it from Arapahoe County.
1903: DPS is born! All school districts in the County of Denver are consolidated into Denver Public Schools, and Aaron Gove becomes the first-ever DPS Superintendent.
1916: Emily Griffith opens the Opportunity School in a once-condemned building on 13th and Welton streets. She believes that everyone deserves an education, regardless of age, race, gender or background, and her school is open to anyone who wishes to learn.
1973: A U.S. Supreme Court decision orders DPS to desegregate schools through busing – sending students from less affluent neighborhoods to schools in affluent neighborhoods and vice versa. This controversial policy stays in place for 22 years.
1992: The Denver Public Schools Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for our schools and students, is established.
1995: The federal mandate to desegregate DPS schools through busing is lifted.
2005: The first Denver Plan, a specific strategic plan centered around DPS’ core objectives, is created.
2010: The second iteration of the Denver Plan, the 2010 Denver Plan: Strategic Vision and Action Plan, is created.
2011: SchoolChoice is implemented for the 2012-13 school year. DPS families now have the opportunity to choose from any school in our district, regardless of where they live.
2012: About 1,000 educators from across our district come together to celebrate the very first Our DPS Day. On this day, educators vote to create our DPS Shared Core Values: Students First, Integrity, Equity, Collaboration, Accountability and Fun. Our DPS Day becomes an annual event for Team DPS to connect with the mission, vision and values of our shared work together.
2014: The new Emily Griffith Campus is finalized and Emily Griffith High School, Emily Griffith Technical College, Downtown Denver Expeditionary School and central school support team members move into 1860 Lincoln St.
2015: The third iteration of the Denver Plan, the Denver Plan 2020: A Call to Action, is created. This five-year strategic plan outlines five strategic goals, which are built upon the foundation of the culture and core beliefs of DPS.