MiDian Holmes won’t take DPS school board seat

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DENVER -- The newly appointed Denver Public Schools school board member announced Thursday she will not accept the board’s appointment after a FOX31 Problem Solvers investigation revealed her previous conviction of child abuse.

On a Facebook page connected to a MiDian Holmes, a statement read, in part, “Reluctantly, I am not going to accept the board’s appointment and will not take the seat for District 4.”

Holmes’ conviction came to light after the Problem Solvers conducted a background check on Holmes, 35, who was appointed Tuesday night during a special session.

She was to replace former school board member Landri Taylor, who resigned last month, citing family reasons. Holmes was one of 20 candidates, according to a school district news release.

Holmes had a 2006 conviction for child abuse along with other citations and criminal complaints.

According to court records, Holmes was also charged with “wrongs to minors” in 2005. The case was dismissed in an apparent exchange for a court-appointed two-day parenting class and one year of court-supervised probation.

In 2006, records indicated Holmes was arrested for one count child abuse and one count of child abuse/no injuries/negligence. The first count was dismissed, and Holmes was found guilty of the second count. She was sentenced to 15 days in jail and 12 months of supervised probation. There are also notations regarding a protection order connected to the case.

On Wednesday, Holmes talked about her past and her criminal conviction. She painted the story of a single mother who was taking a shower when her young daughter walked out the front door.

"I think my story would resonate with the parents of District 4 and I think that with the work that I’ve been able to do in advocacy over the last 10 years, building relationships, having conversations, staying engaged, staying plugged in with my children, with the schools in my district and schools in my neighborhood. I really truly feel that I am qualified," she said.

But with the help of Chalkbeat.org, the Problem Solvers got a hold of the child abuse supplementary report, detailing what happened on March 22, 2006.

According to the report, a police officer responded to Holmes’ address on a 911 hangup call. He arrived to find three young children, ages 2, 6 and 7, hiding upstairs. They had been left alone for hours.

The Denver Department of Human Services later interviewed Holmes’ children, who said their mom had left them alone 15 times before, often when she went to work or cheerleading, according to the report. The report said that when confronted by investigators, Holmes later admitted, “I know it’s wrong.”

The report did not match the story Holmes gave to the Problem Solvers regarding her missing daughter. That is the story the school district and school board rallied behind, when they said they knew about Holmes’ criminal past before voting for her.

In a background check, the Problem Solvers also revealed that Holmes has had ongoing tax problems. The Department of Revenue issued warrants in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

“We believe that school boards have a duty or a diligence to have transparency with the community,” said Amie Baca-Oehlert, vice president of the Colorado Education Association.

Baca-Oehlert said the Problem Solvers investigation has the CEA calling for change.

“Teachers are held to a certain standard and a teacher under a similar situation could lose their licensure, or potentially not gain it under state statute, and so the school board should be held to that same standard of accountability,” she said.

On Thursday, State Sen. Andy Kerr suggested legislation at the state capitol that would require anyone applying for a school board to answer the question “have you ever been convicted of child abuse?”

He said Thursday night he believes Denver board members should have to meet the same high standards as the teachers they hire and fire.

Given that Holmes has announced she will not accept the appointment, it’s not clear where the process goes from here.

In her statement, Holmes still hinted at running for a school board seat in 2017.

“Those that have offered me support through this process ... shall we meet, again, in 2017? *wink, wink*," she wrote.