The Denver Board of Education hears the voices of the community and we, six members of the Board, release this statement to share our continued commitment to action. On April 6th, 2021, this Board launched an independent external investigation to respond to allegations made on social media from BLM5280 and Never Again Colorado against Director Tay Anderson. The Board hired Investigations Law Group — experienced, independent investigators — who had previously reviewed sexual harassment allegations in the Colorado Legislature.
In late May, additional allegations were brought forward by a woman who testified in the legislature that dozens of Denver students had shared deeply concerning stories with her. The Board reported this information to Denver Police, but to our knowledge, no individuals have come forward to the police.
We believe that everyone deserves to be heard; they deserve fair procedures and due process. That’s why the Board has invested more than $50,000 in this investigation. And to ensure no stone is left unturned, we anticipate investing even more. We need to get this right.
The Board continues to implore anyone with relevant information to reach out to the independent investigators at email@example.com. It is critically important that all individuals feel safe and supported to participate in this process. We are a Safe and Welcoming school district. The Board will use any and all authority it has to protect those who participate. Please understand that DPS and the Board are legally bound to protect the names and identities of anyone that comes forward to share an experience of sexual harassment. The investigation team anticipates concluding its interviews by the end of June. If you have relevant information, please do not delay in reaching out. The Board anticipates having findings by the end of the summer at the latest.
The most important action we can take is to protect the integrity of the investigation and make no judgments on its outcome until it is complete. This is our chance to know all the facts. It is dependent on the courage of people to come forward and share information they have with trained investigators or law enforcement. We thank everyone who has participated in the investigation to date. When we have the facts from a fair and thorough investigation, the Board is committed to acting as quickly as possible, within the constraints of Board policy and state law.
We also know that this investigation has encouraged many students to raise their voices and share experiences that do not have any connection to Director Anderson. Those experiences are equally important. We hear you, and we encourage you to raise your voices. In a school district the size of a small city — with 14,000 employees and 90,000 students — we collectively have power to create safe classrooms and workspaces. That’s what our students and employees deserve. It takes every one of us. We believe: our schools must teach comprehensive health, with information on consent. Our employees must know how to report concerns they receive and how to support students who experience sexual harassment or improper sexual conduct. We must have strong mental health resources. Our procedures must be fair and thorough to evaluate and respond to concerns. Our students must understand how to get help, and then trust they will get that help in a trauma-informed and culturally responsive manner. We are committed to working collectively with all of you on this vision.
To our students who are protesting today, thank you for raising your voices. To protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation and give students space to speak their truth, Board members will not attend today’s protest, but we do want to hear your stories. We want to hear them in a space where we can act on them fairly and confidentially. In our place, our Title IX Officer, Kristin Bailey, will be present at today’s event to talk with students and share resources. Information about how to report concerns so DPS can act on them is also linked on the main DPS webpage under Discrimination Harassment and Title IX.
Denver Public Schools has a rigorous process for reviewing allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault. When an allegation triggers our legal obligations as mandatory reporters of child abuse, we first report the allegation to the police. We recognize that this can be incredibly challenging for students when they want to tell an adult about an experience in confidence. As mandatory reporters, however, all DPS employees must report any act of unlawful sexual behavior.
While a report of unlawful sexual behavior or sexual harassment is under review by the police or in our own internal investigation process, we also work with the students involved to provide supportive measures, put safety plans in place if needed, and take steps to ensure no retaliation or bullying results. We take all allegations very seriously and seek to ensure that the process is fair and thorough for all involved.
It is critical to the our community that those who may have experienced sexual harassment are heard and supported, and that those who are accused receive due process.