DENVER (KDVR) — The Denver Public Schools Board of Education president said Vice President and Director at Large Auon’tai Anderson violated numerous board policies, according to a memo sent on Wednesday.
Xóchitl Gaytán, board president and district 2 director, cited several violations in the correspondence including disclosing private information, misrepresenting the board and breaking the chain of command.
Gaytán claims Anderson divulged information that came out in the executive session behind closed doors. “Specifically, naming the Mayor’s private communication with the Superintendent regarding the creation of an Executive Order to address school safety,” the memo reads.
Gaytán said in the memo that due to Anderson’s actions, the board is now subject to at least two CORA (Colorado Open Records Act) requests as of Monday.
FOX31 filed a CORA request for the executive session recording but was denied by the district.
Anderson is also accused of misrepresenting the board by not prefacing in a press conference and media interview that he was speaking for himself and not the board as a whole.
“VP Anderson decided to hold a press conference without consent of the Board
to address outcomes decided on by the board as a whole. The President has the duty as
outlined above and had already held a press conference on Thursday to address the
District’s safety concerns,” the memo reads.
Gaytán accused Anderson of breaking the chain of command when he called Denver Police Chief Ron Thomas the day after two deans were shot by a student at East High School and “made statements on armed police without consent or knowledge of the board President or the board as a whole.”
The correspondence references Anderson stating that the shooting wouldn’t have been prevented had there been a school resource officer on campus. Gaytán said that statement was “misleading and speculative.”
Anderson allegedly claimed he didn’t know about the suspect shooter’s history of expulsion from Overland High School in the Cherry Creek School District. But Gaytán pointed out in the memo that “The District was fully aware of the expulsion and charges associated with the expulsion. This is being perceived by many as inaccurate and misinformation.”
Anderson was one of the board members who adamantly opposed school resource officers being in Denver schools and was a major proponent for having them removed in 2020.
Anderson responds to accusations
Anderson spoke with FOX31 regarding the memo from Gaytán.
“I can confirm that I have received a memo from the President of the Board of Education citing her opinion and only her opinion on policy violations for my press conference and media appearances this past week, furthermore I can confirm this communication does confirm the existence of the executive order I mentioned on Monday,” Anderson said. “I look forward to further board action on this but first we must prioritize the return of students and staff after spring break.”
Anderson also said on Monday:
“Prior to the meeting, the superintendent approached me and the board president and let me know, let us know, that this was a decision that would happen without the board’s approval. And he let me know that the mayor of Denver had an executive order ready to be drafted, and declare a public health emergency, just like he did vaccinations, to deploy school resource officers back to schools.”
On this week’s episode of “Colorado Point of View,” which airs at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Anderson spoke about the situation with host Matt Mauro.
“But I do know the Mayor is very adamant around bringing back the SROs. He almost forced the board’s hand in a way and the board of education decided to move forward because we didn’t want our institution to be threatened by the Mayor of Denver,” Anderson said.
Mayor’s office strongly denies allegations
Michael Strott, a spokesman for Mayor Michael Hancock, continued to deny Anderson’s allegations on Thursday. When FOX31 asked for a response on Monday, Strott said, “The decision to return SRO’s to high schools was Superintendent Marrero’s decision alone, which the Mayor encouraged and supports, because it’s the right decision. There’s no truth to Director Anderson’s claims.”
The Denver Post is reporting Marrero confirmed a conversation about an executive order did take place between the two.
Regardless, Strott asserted Thursday, “If the subject of an executive order was raised during their conversation on-site at East that day while the Superintendent was asking for support on his decision, or during DPS’ executive session, it wasn’t the Mayor who raised it, and he never proposed it.”
Strott tells FOX31 it takes months to work up and issue an executive order.
“At no point did the Mayor propose an executive order, nor did he threaten to issue one as an ultimatum if the school board refused to act,” Strott said. “The decision and request to return SROs to DPS schools was the Superintendent’s alone, and he approached the Mayor and Chief Thomas about this decision for support and our capacity to accommodate it. Mayor Hancock does not bully or threaten people. Others may operate that way. He does not. To put this political nonsense to bed, know that the Mayor cannot and will not issue emergency declarations to assert a police presence over another political subdivision.”