//Tay Anderson led a march from Cheeseman Park to 16th Street Mall on Nov. 7, 2020, in celebration of Joe Biden winning the 2020 Presidential Election. Photo by Esteban Fernandez | firstname.lastname@example.org
Following a five-month investigation, the Denver School Board released a 96-page report Wednesday regarding sexual assault claims against Denver Public School Board Director Tay Anderson, prompting responses from the board and Anderson himself.
Anderson denied any wrongdoing from the start, dating back to a March 27 allegation from BLM5280, involving testimony that Anderson sexually assaulted an unnamed woman. Just over a week later, the DPS Board of Education authorized the independent investigation into the allegation. Additional claims of sexual assault against Anderson were made by DPS parent Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming on May 29 while testifying before a state legislative committee. She stated 62 people had come to her for help regarding a single individual that she refused to name. On May 30, Anderson stepped back from board duties while the investigation continued.
The report notes that the initial sexual assault claim and additional allegations of sexual misconduct against the DPS students during his tenure were not substantiated. However, the lengthy investigation did not clear Anderson of all wrongdoing.
Investigators noted in the report that Anderson “had flirtatious social media contact with a 16-year-old DPS student while a board member” and that he “made two social media posts during the investigation that were coercive and intimidating toward witnesses.” The report also notes that Anderson “made unwelcome sexual comments, advancements, and/or engaged in unwelcome sexual contact toward members and associates of the Never-Again Colorado Board of Directors.”
The DPS Board responded to the investigation, expressing gratitude that the initial accusations could not be proven while explicitly denouncing the additional findings surrounding Anderson’s behavior.
“The Board strongly believes the investigation treated Director Anderson fairly,” the statement reads. “The most grievous accusations were not substantiated and the board is grateful for that. However, the report reveals behavior unbecoming of a board member. As elected officials, we must hold ourselves and each other to the highest standards in carrying out the best interests of the District. Director Anderson’s behavior does not meet those standards.”
The statement closes noting the board will hold a meeting to consider a censure of Director Anderson on Friday, Sept. 17 at 1 p.m. There is a possibility the board will take no further action, but censure could result in Anderson’s suspension or removal from his position. “Until then, individual board members will not discuss their personal deliberations or the contents of this report,” it concludes.
Anderson was quick to respond to the report with a statement via Twitter, with the caption, “Let’s get back to work!” The statement affirms Anderson and his legal team fully cooperated with the Investigative Law Group and Denver Public Schools over the course of the investigation, and they maintain that the severity of these allegations warranted an official investigative process.
“I believe the most important message that can be conveyed at this time is that the finding of unsubstantiated claims against me is in no way a victory over survivors, but rather an opportunity to reconsider how we view and create not only restorative but also transformative justice for survivors, falsely accused and correctly convicted,” the statement added, closing with a message that Anderson hopes the community can begin the process of healing.
While the statement does not explicitly address the investigation’s substantiated findings against Anderson, it concludes by noting that he plans to address the report in its entirety during a press conference in the coming days, once he and his legal counsel have had adequate time to review the document in detail.
Kelly Davidson, a representative for BLM5280, responded to Ms. Mayhem’s request for comment following the report’s release: “BLM5280 has no further comment. They were not at all involved in the investigation and simply acted as a space of support to the victim. We do appreciate the opportunity to further elaborate, but will not be commenting at this time.”
The press release from BLM5280 added that the organization’s involvement and statement are solely motivated by their commitment to believe women who say they have been harmed and to prevent further harm. “We believe Black women. Full stop.”
The 96-page investigative report is available in full here.
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