Some 200 students at North High school in Denver on Monday staged a walkout protest, calling for embattled Denver Public School Board of Education Director Tay Anderson to resign after an investigation it initiated did not substantiate Anderson committing allegations of sexual assault but found he made "unbecoming" comments to minors.
The protest kicked off around 10 a.m. with students holding makeshift signs calling for Anderson's resignation. They marched across Speer Boulevard to a small park and made speeches supporting sexual assault victims before leaving the park to march on downtown Denver. Police officers blocked traffic to allow the march, and NHS Assistant Principal Amanda Gonzales followed the students along the march.
The walkout comes after the DPS board on Friday voted by a 6-1 margin to censure Anderson, who was the sole no vote.
The probe, conducted by Investigations Law Group, could not substantiate allegations of sexual assault brought forward by Black Lives Matter 5280 and Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming, a DPS parent. Investigators also could not corroborate alleged sexual misconduct by Anderson while he was a DPS employee working at Manual and North high schools.
But the probe did find Anderson “engaged flirtatiously” with a 16-year-old DPS student and made social media posts that could be viewed as attempts to intimidate witnesses participating in the probe.
That wasn’t the only case of “flirtatious” communication with a student. In 2018, Anderson was running for his board seat when he began communicating with a 17-year-old high school girl from Douglas County. Anderson was 20 at the time.
The report also corroborated that Anderson likely engaged in “some unwelcome sexual commentary, some unwelcome sexual advances and physical contact” toward the Never-Again Colorado Board of Directors and their associates while he was that organization’s president in 2018. Investigators also highlighted a pair of social media posts they believed were attempts to intimidate witnesses.
In a statement released on Twitter, Anderson said he "unequivocally supports the First Amendment and the right to protest."
The statement goes on to note, the ILG report did not substantiate allegations of sexual assault and that he cut off contact with the 16-year-old DPS student once he became aware of her age. That reiterates points he made during the censure hearing, where he also explained the context around the social media posts, which he said were not an intimidation effort.
At that hearing, he said he would not resign and compared his treatment to a modern-day lynching, saying the probe exceeded the scope it was initially designed to investigate and drawing parallels to Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy who was killed in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's grocery store.
The statement released Monday also took shots at the board and the media, which he said "perpetuated false narratives... resulting in our students feeling unsafe."
A DPS spokesman indicated ahead of the walkout the district was aware of the planned protest and was working with school leaders to ensure student safety.
Anderson is set to address his future on the DPS board in a speech scheduled for 6 p.m.