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Denver school board member reprimanded over comments following shooting

School Board President Xóchitl Gaytán’s written reprimand of Vice President Auon’tai Anderson could lead to censure or other discipline.

DENVER — Denver School Board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson faces the possibility of a second censure in his four years in office.  

Anderson disclosed on the Brother Jeff Show on Wednesday that he expects a reprimand from School Board President Xóchitl Gaytán for allegedly violating board policy for, among other things, discussing a confidential meeting following the recent shooting at East High School. His comments concerning the content of an executive session came during a Monday interview on Next with Kyle Clark.

"I think you'll see some communication from the board president reprimanding board members for speaking out of turn,” Anderson said, adding that he felt the reprimand would “derail the focus” from discussing school safety. 

9NEWS has asked DPS to provide a copy of the memorandum. 

Anderson told 9NEWS that the policy violations alleged by Gaytán represent “her opinion and only her opinion.” 

“I look forward to further board action on this but first we must prioritize the return of students and staff after spring break,” Anderson said. 

In 2021, Anderson was censured by a 6-1 vote of the board for flirting with a 16-year-old on social media (Anderson was the lone dissenting vote). The board found the behavior “unbecoming” of a school board director. 

The education news outlet Chalkbeat Colorado reported that Anderson’s 2021 censure was believed to be the first in DPS board history. 

Anderson divulged information about a confidential executive session of the school board during a Monday interview on 9NEWS where Anderson also said that DPS students accused of attempted murder for off-campus shootings should return to class. 

Anderson told 9NEWS on Monday that the Denver School Board agreed to bring Denver Police officers back to DPS as school resource officers for the remainder of the school year under threat of a similar executive order from Mayor Michael Hancock. 

“(Mayor) Michael Hancock had an executive order drafted and ready to be signed, deploying SROs in the same way that he did with COVID vaccinations,” Anderson said on 9NEWS. “Those were the exact words of the superintendent prior to the executive session and were reiterated to the full board during that time.” 

Hancock’s spokesman categorically denied Anderson’s claim that the city was readying an executive order to bring back SROs over the objection of DPS. 

Anderson said Mayor Hancock’s intentions were relayed in a private meeting with Superintendent Dr. Alex Marrero and outlined to the full school board during a confidential executive session. 

When Anderson was asked by 9NEWS if his disclosures were a violation of board policy or the law, Anderson said he was able to publicize the information because it had been relayed to him prior to when it was discussed in the confidential session. 

“During the closed Executive Session, Dr. Marrero shared many details and hypothetical situations with the Board as part of our ongoing dialog regarding student safety for the remainder of the year,” Board President Gaytán told 9NEWS. “The Board of Education does not disclose discussions that occur in Executive Session due to the deliberative process privilege afforded by Colorado’s Open meetings law.” 

Board policy outlines a three-step process for alleged board policy violations. 

First, the alleged violation is to be discussed privately between the board member and the board president. Next, “if the alleged violation continues,” the issue is to be discussed by the full board. Lastly, a public censure may be voted on by the full board if there has been a “substantial violation of board policy.” 

The memorandum referenced by Anderson has not yet been made public. It may be discussed at an April 10 board meeting.

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