By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver
(Castle Rock, CO) STEM School Highlands Ranch parents and students received an email over the weekend announcing Penny Euker’s retirement effective immediately. Euker served as CEO of KOSON schools, a network of STEM charter schools meant to include STEM School Denver and STEM School Sterling Ranch.
“This may come as a surprise to many in our community as it is to the Board as well,” said Kelly Reyna, board president of STEM School Highlands Ranch.
Reyna’s letter to the school community doesn’t mention the reason for Euker’s retirement. “I understand that there will be many questions in the coming weeks, and the STEM Board will go through details in due time,” said Reyna.
Euker spoke to the DougCo school board in April to support the replication application to open a school in Sterling Ranch. Public comments from community members included support for and against Euker’s leadership.
The Denver Public School board and the DougCo school board voted unanimously last month to deny STEM School Highlands Ranch’s applications to build another school within their districts.
According to her bio, Euker served as the executive director of STEM Highlands Ranch for 10 years before accepting the CEO position in February.
STEM School Highlands Ranch mired in controversy
A jury convicted Devon Erikson over a year ago for shooting and killing classmate Kendrick Castillo during an attack at STEM Highlands Ranch.
Since then, many have blamed Euker and the school’s leadership for ignoring warning signs and creating an unsafe environment. After the verdict, a group of more than 400 parents and students called Concerned Parents for STEM signed a petition and letter of concern asking the STEM board to remove Euker.
CPR News reported, “the school has had its share of crises - from strained relationships with neighbors over expansion plans, findings of civil rights violations against special education students, fights with the school board over the charter’s renewal and calls for Eucker’s removal at various junctures over the past several years. A school shooting in 2019 caused more destabilization.”
A civil suit filed by John and Maria Castillo against STEM School Highlands Ranch and the DougCo school district for the wrongful death of their son will go to a jury trial in February 2023.