Jimmy’s Washington Examiner Op-Ed | Denver school board cowardice leaves students to lead

Written by on June 8, 2021

As allegations arise that Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson, arguably Colorado’s most prominent BLM and “defund the police” activist, has sexually assaulted at least 62 students (allegedly as young as 14 and almost all undocumented), his comrades on the school board have acted shamefully and fecklessly.

Let’s be clear: We’re not talking about uncorroborated allegations of sexual assault from childhood decades ago. We’re talking about allegations from within the past few years against a current school board member with direct responsibility and influence over children. We’re talking about a school board member who has a documented history of intimidation and other recent accusations of sexual assault.

Anderson, 22, now stands accused of abusing students from unwanted touching to “violent acts of rape.” He also purportedly intimidated his alleged victims with statements like “I’ll find you anywhere” and threats of deportation. Resignation is not conviction. He needs to be off the board.

The overall allegations were first made public in a May 25 testimony before the Colorado Legislature by DPS mom and BLM financier Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming. While Brooks Fleming didn’t name Anderson, the website the Colorado Herald did three days later.

The district filed a police report and added these allegations to an independent district investigation into other allegations against Anderson, initiated April 6. Yet Denver’s school board has been impotent and outright unwilling to affirm those it is supposed to protect: its students.

First, it was May 30. That evening, Anderson released a statement announcing he was “stepping back from everyday board functions” for the duration of the investigation. The board subsequently released a statement supporting his decision but clarifying Anderson “will continue to vote on necessary matters before the Board including the hiring of a new superintendent.”

Some recusal. Indeed, Anderson did vote to approve the next superintendent on Thursday. After that pivotal vote, he finally said he would steer clear of all board business until at least August, when school returns.

Let’s be real: By providing cover for Anderson and being perfectly fine with his vote for the school district’s next leader, the board is complicit. Feeling ignored by their school district leadership, a common theme for parents and students alike these days, DPS teenagers have had to take the mantle and advocate for themselves.

On May 30, the Colorado High School Democrats publicly called on Anderson to resign. Then, Gigi Gordon, 18, put up a Change.org petition calling for Anderson’s arrest. The next day, she created a second petition for new diplomas to be issued without Anderson’s signature.

She joined me for two hours in-studio on my 710KNUS-Denver radio show Saturday. The courageous young woman, who is leading a protest march to the school district headquarters on Thursday, didn’t mince words.

“This is pretty low of the board,” Gordon, a 2021 DPS graduate, said. “It’s pretty much like saying that Tay Anderson is more important than these kids and their voice. It’s like saying that his reputation and his career and how this can impact him for the rest of his life is more important than the kids that could have possibly been abused by him, that could be scarred and never move on past this because they will never get justice because the board isn’t doing anything about it.”

“Why are they allowing this? Why are they allowing this guy with all of these accusations to just continue to vote, and especially voting on the superintendent after all of this? I mean, that is just such a kick in the gut to everyone who’s trying to fight for justice.”

Another 2021 DPS graduate, “Alexa from Denver,” called in to the show. She made a profound point about the DPS board and the district. “They don’t listen to the students,” she said, “but in reality, students are the ones that literally attend the schools. We’re what makes up schools. If it wasn’t for the students, schools wouldn’t be schools.”

Anderson was elected to his position. He can’t be removed except by recall or resignation. But Gordon made it clear who’s leading right now: “The students, the kids, not the board.”

Where is the Denver Public Schools board? When will it hear the cries of its own students?

Click here to read Jimmy’s July 8 op-ed at The Washington Examiner.

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