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Tay Anderson to resume Denver school board duties amid sexual misconduct investigation

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Posted at 12:23 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 02:02:09-04

DENVER — Denver school board member Tay Anderson is resuming board duties after stepping back from his role in June to allow for an independent investigation into alleged sexual misconduct to conclude, which is still ongoing.

Anderson announced his intent to return in a letter, emailed Wednesday to his colleagues at the Denver Public Schools Board of Education.

“Today I am emailing to inform you that I am returning to my full duties as a duly elected member of the Denver School Board. This is effective immediately,” Anderson wrote.

The board launched the investigation, headed by Investigations Law Group, after anonymous allegations were levied against him by Black Lives Matter 5280 and Never Again Colorado earlier this spring.

That investigation, which the board said in June has cost more than $50,000, is still ongoing. However, in Anderson’s letter, the board member said he can no longer wait for the conclusion of the investigation.

“I have fully cooperated and participated in the independent investigation being conducted by ILG. I am now told that the investigation will not be completed for at least another four or five weeks, leading us to mid-August. The timeline of this external private investigation has changed multiple times and the scope of its inquiry continues to change. Although I remain committed to engaging in a transparent and fair process, I can no longer wait for this process to conclude to initiate my return to serving the families of the Denver Public Schools,” Anderson wrote.

The BLM 5280 allegations came to light in March after the group said a woman came forward in February and alleged Anderson sexually assaulted her. Anderson held a news conference to deny the allegations, in which he said, “I have not sexually assaulted anyone. And I am not aware of a situation that can be construed as sexual assault. And I want to ensure that I and others have a fair, transparent and truly restorative process.”

In May, Anderson faced new allegations after a woman testified before a legislative committee about a sexual predator within the school system who has targeted students. The DPS board reported that testimony to Denver police but said in a statement at the time that to its knowledge, no one has come forward to report such allegations to the Denver Police Department. A student group has since called for his resignation.

Anderson wrote in Wednesday’s letter the investigation has been “bogged down” and no credible evidence has been produced.

“I have not been arrested, charged, or even contacted by any law enforcement agency regarding any of these false claims against me. And, more than anything, our DPS community has been fractured by these false allegations, and I am left compelled to try and heal the divisions which this situation has caused,” he wrote.

In a statement from the school board released Wednesday, the board said “it is not our role to tell them to shut down their investigation early, before they believe they have gathered and reviewed all available evidence.” The statement goes on to defend their actions in calling for an independent investigation.

“One of the reasons that the Board launched this investigation was because, consistent with our values, we believed a young Black man deserved due process and a fair evaluation of anonymous allegations that were made on social media. We hired independent, neutral, and trained investigators to review these claims,” the statement read.

During a news conference Wednesday, Anderson said the stress of dealing with the allegations had affected his mental health, bringing him to a point, he said, where he contemplated ending his own life.

“So, on the morning of May 29 in 2021, I began contemplating taking my own life, not because I felt guilty of anything I was being accused of, but because I could no longer bear the weight of my own community thinking I was a sexual predator or that my family has been attacked in the public spaces and my newborn son, my beautiful baby boy Khalil, was even the subject to hateful threats and comments, which are completely unacceptable,” Anderson said.

The board said it has spent more than $50,000 on the investigation and that it plans to invest "even more."

Denver Public Schools Wednesday night provided the following letter the president of the board sent to Anderson:

Hi Tay-

As you know, the Board launched this independent external investigation to create a safe space for any individual to come forward, while also ensuring a fair process for you as anaccused young Black man. We did this with your support. The Board remains committed to the integrity of this independent investigation and to seeing it to its conclusion. We also remain committed to concluding the investigation before the start of the school year. Our students and our district depend on the ability of this Board to move forward effectively to focus on the big issues before us -- bringing our students and schools out of the pandemic and driving forward our equity goals.

We are grateful to hear you have the support structures you need, as I'm sure you remember that when Jen Bacon and I talked to you on May29th we wanted to make sure you had your support systems in place to care for your mental health. We couldn't agree more about the critical need for suicide prevention tools for our young adults.

As Board President, I want to continue to respect the month of July for our colleagues to step away and connect with their families before we hit the ground sprinting in August. However, once we re-engage in August, let's connect on the next steps of the Board's work.