Tay Anderson, Denver Public School Board Director, speaks to a crowd outside of Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in downtown Denver on Sept. 21, 2020. The small crowd gathered to demand the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remain open until after the Nov. 3 presidential election. (Moe Clark/Colorado Newsline)
For once, I (mostly) agree with Jimmy Sengenberger.
With multiple ongoing sexual assault investigations, and extensive impact to Denver Public Schools, it’s time for Colorado Democrats to call out their 2020 Rising Star Award winner: School Board Secretary and Member-at-Large Tay Anderson should resign immediately.
Republicans — hold the champagne.
Those of you gleefully awaiting calls for Anderson’s resignation as a sign of partisan righteousness, you have no business popping the cork. After years of silence regarding former President Trump — a man with more than two dozen sexual assault allegations who bragged about assaulting women on camera — you’ve lost all credibility in the matter.
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Although not all accusations may warrant resignation, Anderson’s do for several reasons:
First, the sexual assault accusations are serious, multiple and ongoing. They now involve children from DPS, and they are coming from within political circles that Anderson once dominated, lending credibility. The first allegation was revealed in March by Black Lives Matter 5280, a group that had prominently featured Anderson prior.
Second, it has since been revealed that Anderson has a documented history of fostering hostile work environments and retaliation. The hostility claims stem from 2018 when Anderson served as president for Never Again Colorado, a gun reform group. Six former female colleagues have expressed concerns regarding Anderson’s behavior, saying they felt unsafe in the workplace.
In a separate 2018 matter, at least one complaint was lodged against Anderson at DPS, where he claims to have worked at Manual High School as a paraprofessional prior to his election to the school board. Investigation by DPS determined Anderson had broken district policy of retaliation. It’s unclear what measures of accountability were taken, if any.
Third, new accusations exploded last week in testimony by Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming at the state Legislature, claiming DPS had a “sexual predator.” While much remains to be learned about the credibility of these statements — ones including 62 victims and violent child rape — DPS has acknowledged ongoing discussions, prompting new response from the school board and Anderson himself.
Anderson has now indicated that he will step back from his daily board functions, a stark departure from his early responses. The board agrees with his decision.
Yet Anderson has not formally resigned. Rather, he has made clear he intends to maintain his voting capacity, including for key decisions such as choosing a superintendent — a position that would ultimately hold influence on Anderson’s success with the board. He also intends to retain his title and position of authority, despite acknowledging he is currently unable to perform the functions of his office in full.
In combining his inability to manage current responsibilities with the severity of the allegations, the established pattern of concerning behaviors toward women and the past history of retaliation, Anderson’s refusal to resign at this time is a disservice to the DPS community. They have already been impacted emotionally and fiscally, and they deserve a board member who can perform the duties in full without conflicts of interest or intimidation.
It appears the Colorado High School Democrats agree. Over the weekend, the group — which Anderson formerly chaired — issued a statement in light of the new allegations calling for his resignation. The statement expresses a loss of confidence in the board member, along with a concern that students should not have to be afraid of a board member.
Calling for resignation is not a conviction.
Guilt is for an investigative team and possibly a jury to decide. Resignation merely acknowledges that Anderson’s continued presence in DPS at this time remains a concern until otherwise cleared.
Particularly on the hook for speaking out are the many Democrats and organizations who previously endorsed him. Although many Facebook posts appear to have been deleted, and Anderson’s endorsement page is no longer available, the list of names is lengthy and notable. For elected officials facing tough reelections, they would be wise not to be last in line to pause ties.
Certainly, should Anderson be cleared of all wrongdoing moving forward, Colorado Democrats can reevaluate his role at that time. But for now, Anderson should exit swiftly and quietly.
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