South High School principal, 3 other administrators reinstated after investigation

DENVER -- The principal at Denver South High School and three other administrators will be returning to work after being placed on leave while Denver Public Schools investigated allegations of male students groping a female teenager at the school.

The district sent a letter to South High School families on Tuesday saying principal Jen Hanson and student adviser Lynette Lucero will be returning.

We want to thank you for your support and your patience during these past few days. I wanted to let you know that, based on our internal review, Principal Jen Hanson and Student Advisor Lynette Lucero are no longer on administrative leave and will be returning to our school.

During this detailed review, we found that Principal Hanson and Student Advisor Lucero took appropriate actions in response to concerns, including the timely sharing of information with law enforcement, providing supports to students and families, and planning additional education for students. Please understand that we cannot share further details in order to protect student privacy.

We know this has been a difficult and uncertain couple of days. We want to reiterate that administrative leave is routine in any situation where law enforcement is involved, and does not and should not imply any judgment regarding the actions of the individuals.

Both Principal Hanson and Student Advisor Lucero are critical members of a strong leadership team at South that is driving growth for our students, in academics and in whole child supports and experiences. They are widely respected for their work and for the progress they are leading at South. They are eager to return to our school, and we are happy to welcome them back.

We also want to thank Assistant Principal Cheri Hilton and the entire South team for focusing on our students during their absence.

Instructional superintendent Sean Precious and another staff member, Barbara Downing, were also placed on paid leave and have been reinstated.

Parents found out the administrators were on leave on Friday.

A special prosecutor was appointed because one of the alleged victims is a family member of an employee of the Denver District Attorney's Office, according to documents.

The district attorney's office believes a special prosecutor is needed to ensure a fair investigation.

Denver Public Schools has declined to provide details regarding the assault.

The alleged incident took place in mid-September when a female teenager at the school accused two male students of putting their hands on her and touching her inappropriately.

Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson said the incident happened on Sept. 14 at a homecoming bonfire celebration.

Police are looking into the lag time between the victim's report of the alleged assault to administrators and when South High School officials reported the incident to police.

According to Jackson, it took administrators 13 days to contact police after the female student came forward to school staff.

Jackson said the girl's parents do not intend to press charges, but the department will continue to investigate whether proper protocol was followed by staff at the school.

A mandatory reporting law in Colorado requires school administrators to turn to police if they suspect or have knowledge of possible child neglect or abuse.

Whether that law was followed in order to protect the victim in question is the subject of the investigation.

The identities of the students involved have not been released and there have been no charges or arrests.

The incident might raise questions about an individual's willingness to come forward with concern for their own or others' safety.

Anonymous reports can be made to Safe2Tell, a partnership effort that encourages those who are victims of abuse or suspect someone else might be in danger.

The organization is a partnership among the Colorado Attorney General's Office, the Colorado State Patrol and Safe Communities-Safe Schools
Center for Study and Prevention of Violence at CU Boulder.

RELATED: Report suspected abuse to Safe2Tell Colorado or call 1-877-542-7233