Aurora Public schools spent $18K investigating its own board member after Denver7 investigation

Posted at 11:11 PM, Aug 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 01:15:21-04

AURORA, Colo. -- Aurora Public Schools spent almost $19,000 investigating one of its own school board members.

Eric Nelson has been the focus of multiple Denver7 investigations since June, when we helped uncover discrepancies in his resume.

Denver7 and The Colorado Statesman uncovered a criminal history, falsified military accolades, a questionable education and work record and a scathing letter denying Nelson a license to be a bail bondsman in 2010.

As a result of the investigations, the majority of the school board asked for Nelson to resign at the June 21 meeting.

If he didn't resign, a district investigation would commence.

"I will direct Superintendent (Rico) Munn to conduct a comprehensive review to determine the legitimacy of this information," said board president Amber Drevon on June 21.

Nelson refused and the district started an investigation.

At its Aug. 2 meeting, the board reviewed the 23-page final report which was completed by a private investigator for $18,789.35.

Nelson can't be fired since he is an elected representative; he can only resign or be subject to a recall vote. Denver7 asked the district why it spent nearly $19,000 to investigate a board member it cannot fire.

In a statement, spokeswoman Patti Moon wrote:

"Aurora Public Schools Board of Education members are elected officials and it is important to hold them accountable. Media reports alerted us that parts of Eric Nelson's biography may have been falsified. That compelled us to verify all other claims made in his biography, which was posted on our website. This included investigating four academic degrees, teaching positions, licenses and forty organizations in which Mr. Nelson claimed to be involved. The verification of this information was of great interest to our families, staff and community."

The private investigator researched what Denver7 had already reported on, as well as Nelson's full work and education history, as well as volunteer work.

The lead investigator charged $200 an hour, for more than $15,000. The invoice included charges for records requests, court records, background checks, interviews, telephone conferences and report preparations.

Reviewing reports completed by Denver7 was included on a $460 charge for July 2.

"July 2 - 'Conference with research assistant, review 38 identified contacts, email to post 30, review all channel 7 news reports, review (again) address Nelson history' - $460."

On June 30, the district was charged $60 for "Nelson screenshots LinkedIn and Facebook account."

On July 7, there was a $105 charge for "Research, Northwest Nazarene."

Denver7 confirmed in June that Nelson had not attended or received a Master's from Northwest Nazarene University, after he provided a photo of a diploma with multiple errors.

Denver7 spoke with a member of the University's Registrars Office for 10 minutes and confirmed six problems with the diploma, including a misspelling, an incorrect degree and an honor that was not given to Master's students.

In June, the board stripped Nelson of his role as secretary and removed his page-long biography from the district's website. His biography now states: "Eric D. Nelson was elected in 2013 for a four-year term."