Denver Public Schools School Board Member Tay Anderson faces a Friday censure vote after an investigation cleared him of serious sexual assault allegations but found that he engaged in "unbecoming" behavior when he flirted with a minor student and attempted to coerce witnesses.
The report is heavily redacted because of privacy concerns, the board said.
By way of explanation, the Board statement said that in the third allegation, "it documents an investigation into student allegations under Title IX and these records cannot be provided under the Colorado Open Records Act. Portions of Section 2 have been redacted because Director Anderson asserts that they violate his privacy interests if they are released. The Board believes the report should be as transparent as possible and will take the matter to the court to allow a judge to determine whether it is appropriate for the district to release the redacted portions of section 2."
The Board of Education ordered the independent investigation, conducted by the Investigations Law Group, in April after numerous allegations surfaced alleging Anderson sexually harassed or assaulted DPS students and other members of the community. The investigation cost the district $105,449.63.
Read the full report by clicking here.
The report notes that "ILG’s investigation did not take place in a vacuum. ILG proceeded with due awareness of the history of racism in relation to allegations of sexual assault, the historical mistreatment of sexual assault survivors and the volatile landscape of social media.
"These considerations were an important part of the background of the investigation and deserve special mention ... This situation involves a young Black man standing publicly accused by a white woman ostensibly speaking on behalf of non-white victims. Director Anderson is the only Black male member of the Board of Education. As such, race is a context that cannot be ignored in this case."
The report listed five areas that ILG investigated:
• The most serious allegation, made by DPS parent Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming during a May 25 House Judiciary Committee hearing at the state Capitol, was that Anderson committed sexual assault, rape and/or sexual misconduct against 62 DPS students. The report said those allegations are "not substantiated."
• Whether Anderson committed sexual assault of a woman, whose allegations were made public by the organization BLM5280 on March 26, 2021. The report called that allegation "not substantiated."
• Whether Anderson made unwelcome sexual comments and advances and/or engaged in unwelcome sexual contact with members and associates of the NAC Board of Directors in the spring and summer of 2018. The report said there was no connection to DPS, but that the allegation was "admitted/substantiated that most behaviors occurred as alleged." These findings won't be addressed in the censure vote because they happened before Anderson was a board member.
• Whether Anderson committed any sexual or other serious misconduct while he was a DPS employee. This allegation was "not substantiated," according to the report.
• Finally, the investigation looked at whether Anderson has committed any sexual or other serious misconduct while running for, or since he has been on the school board, including any retaliation related to the investigation. The findings were mixed. The report said Anderson "had flirtatious social media contact with a 16-year-old ... student while a board member," that he "made two social media posts during the investigation that were coercive and intimidating toward witnesses."
But the probe didn't substantiate that Anderson "directed or condoned others’ coercive or intimidating behaviors toward witnesses."
The report said Anderson cooperated with the investigation, meeting with investigators twice, accompanied by his attorney and answering every question asked.
Anderson issued a statement via Twitter after the report was released.
He said both major allegations, the BLM5280 claim and the allegations from Brooks-Fleming, "came from a single source whose lack of credibility is outlined in detail in the provided report. We are not surprised, but nevertheless encouraged that his investigation found the allegations to be unsubstantiated and without merit."
The most important message, Anderson said, is that "a 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 corrected convicted."
Anderson announced he would hold a press conference, date to be determined, to address the report.
Statement from Denver School Board Director Tay Anderson: Let’s get back to work! pic.twitter.com/fleEhewZ4W— Tay Anderson (@TayAndersonCO) September 15, 2021
The DPS board, in their statement, said they "strongly believes the investigation treated Director Anderson fairly. 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 Board will hold a Board meeting to consider a censure of Director Anderson on 1 p.m. on Friday, September 17. Until then, individual Board members will not discuss their personal deliberations or the contents of this report."
March 26: a Tweet from Black Lives Matter 5280 stated a woman had come to them in February, claiming Anderson had sexually assaulted her and asked for a public apology.
March 27: Anderson responded, also via Twitter, denying the allegations.
March 28: Anderson held a press conference to address second round of allegations, raised by Madison Rose of the gun control group Never Again Colorado.
April 5: Never Again volunteers said Anderson created an unsafe work environment when he served as president in 2018. Anderson apologized.
April 6: Denver Public Schools announced it would hire ILG to conduct an independent investigation with a June deadline for completion, which was later extended.
May 25: Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming, a DPS parent, testified in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Senate Bill 21-088 that a DPS board director had sexually assaulted more than 60 victims, most of them undocumented immigrants. While she didn't identify Anderson, the DPS board confirmed she was speaking about him. None of the assaults were reported to Denver Police.
May 30: Anderson announced he would temporarily step away from "everyday" duties as a board of education member, although he remained on the board for another week in order to cast a vote for the district's next superintendent.
June 29: Yellow Scene magazine reported the original victim who spoke to BLM5280 had recanted her allegations and "disassociated herself" from Fleming. Anderson denied knowing the victim until 2020, although the alleged assault took place in 2018.
July 14: Anderson, stating he had cooperated fully with the investigation, said he would return to his full-time duties on the DPS board.
Sept. 13: DPS announces ILG had concluded its investigation of the public allegations made against Anderson and had delivered a 96-page report to the board of education's counsel. "The allegations made against Director Anderson were serious and warranted a thorough, independent review to ensure the safety of the DPS community and a fair process for Director Anderson."
The report was to be redacted by the board's lawyers to protect the privacy of students who participated in the investigation. It was then released to the DPS board.
Tuesday, the report was due to be released to Anderson. It was scheduled to be made available public on Wednesday and posted on the board's website.
Both Denver Police and the Denver District Attorney's office have said