Many parents opted to keep their children home amid concerns for their children’s safety after the announcement that U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert would hold a Q&A with Dolores High School students Wednesday during her trip to Southwest Colorado for water-related meetings.
On Monday, the Dolores secondary school administration emailed parents about the Republican representative’s visit. The district informed parents that only students were allowed to attend the Q&A so they could ask Boebert questions. Parents, friends and media initially were excluded, although The Journal appealed Tuesday night and was granted access.
After the email, reactions from parents expressed concerns about safety and whether the visit would become a political event.
District officials emphasized that the event was a chance for Dolores students to engage in civic discussion and hear about current issues from Boebert, who represents the 3rd Congressional District.
“The school’s social studies department and administrative team felt that it was an opportunity to promote civic engagement amongst our students and to give them a rare chance to hear from the sitting congresswoman from our region and to promote civic engagement,” the email said. “The MS/HS administration and the superintendent discussed this visit and the benefits the opportunity presents to students thoroughly prior to inviting the congresswoman to visit.”
Boebert also planned to share her experience in government, according to the email.
“Congresswoman Boebert will share insight on what it’s like to serve in Congress; provide an overview of her legislative focus representing Colorado, including water issues; and then highlight the unprecedented events which started the 118th Session of Congress,” the email said.
“The purpose of this event is not Political. In fact, the campaign side of Congresswoman Boebert’s organization is not involved in this event in any way. Her legislative team is the team responsible and they are who we have communicated with exclusively. We understand that there are many in our community who like her and many who do not like her. The reason she was invited to our campus is not about whether some of our students, staff, parents and community members like or dislike her personally and/or politically. She was invited because she is our representative to the United States House of Representatives. The work she is doing in Congress affects us all both regionally and nationally. It is our expectation that all students and staff engage in civil discourse while she is a guest on our campus,” the email said.
They added that if any parents would like their child to skip the event, they would be able to do so.
One parent emailed The Journal on Tuesday, saying the Dolores school administration clearly wasn’t putting student safety at the forefront of the conversation.
“Security concerns are being ignored by the principal,” she said. “No parents were notified till the last minute by email and only because of rumors circulating. There is no concern over the children’s safety bringing this controversial person to our children’s schools.”
“This was hidden from parents and is very concerning that the school is not taking school shootings serious. This embattled politician could have a crazy person come after her putting our children in the line of fire. Completely irresponsible,” she said.
After three emails, the parent requested anonymity.
“Dolores is a small community,” she said. “Retaliation is real in these small towns.”
Other parents said they were concerned that Boebert would bring a firearm on campus. She is known for conceal carrying.
“We have confirmed and re-confirmed with the Congresswoman’s staff that she will not have a firearm with her while she is on campus,” the district said.
“That’s really unfortunate that they would politicize something like this, and it was certainly an honor for me to be there. I wasn’t making anything political of it. You know, just explaining the basics of civics and government and the way things operate and giving them kind of an insider’s look without a partisan lens. I’m not sure exactly what the safety concern would be. But I think that it was well received and the students were amazing, friendly and welcoming ... they were a joy,” the congresswoman told The Journal.
“It’s sad that parents would even consider that and maybe even place that seed of doubt in their children's minds, blocking them from receiving information that they can learn about their federal government,” she said.
This article will be updated when additional information becomes available.