As restorative practices coordinator at North High, Anderson used power to assault and groom students?

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Before he was elected to the DPS board, Tay Anderson served as “Restorative Practices Coordinator” at North High School, from . It’s during this time, allegedly, that Anderson began using his position of power over young students to prey on them, groom them, and sexually assault them.

From , “Through focus groups and interviews with representatives from schools that practice restorative discipline, the Partnership concluded that at least one full-time coordinator of restorative practices was necessary to take this approach school-wide. This reflects how time-intensive restorative practices can be in comparison to exclusionary discipline actions that push students out of school and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Schools that have struggled with funding have often reassigned a staff member to this role who has proven strong in relationship-building.
The RP Coordinator’s responsibilities can best be divided into three categories: reactive restorative practices, proactive/preventative restorative practices, and RP training.”

The list of priorities and duties for the “RP Coordinator” are confusing and broad; the individual in this role is responsible for engaging, monitoring classroom activity, working with kids at risk of entering the prison pipeline, and aiming to prevent such interactions through relationship building and behavioral dialogue.

The role gave Anderson direct and unfettered access to children in an ongoing, deep level. That is, Anderson worked with these children in meaningful but potentially powerful ways that lent him the ability to impression and befriend minor children. At times, Anderson had access to children at events and in their homes, due to this position of RP Coordinator.

According to several of Anderson’s alleged victims, he assaulted them during his tenure as RP Coordinator at North High School. Before Mary Katherine Brooks Fleming’s Tuesday testimony last week, a small student-led group of current and former North students had reported their allegations of sexual assault by Anderson to several North teachers. Due to the lack of actions taken by DPS, the students reportedly planned to wage a social media and online effort to “out Tay Anderson” as their abuser.

Allegedly, Anderson caught wind of the plans and attended North graduation as an intimidation practice. A victim states that Anderson told her, “my name will still be on your diploma,” and this sentiment has been echoed across the Denver children’s BLM circles.

It’s for that reason that a was started by Gigi Gordon to have new diplomas, without Anderson’s name, issued to any student who wants one.

Additionally, another started this week seeks to gather as many signatures as possible to encourage Anderson’s arrest by Denver Police. Obviously, a petition cannot ensure an arrest, but the sheer number of students signing and commenting that they feel their trust was abused by Anderson and DPS is notable.

We reached out to DPS for a statement on Anderson’s former role as RP Coordinator as well as the allegations that students did alert several North High School teachers to Anderson’s sexual assaults and intimidation tactics. This story will be updated if and when a response is provided.

As several students pointed out on both petitions, the performative actions taken by Blue Bench and the inability of DPS to stop their accuser makes students feel unable to trust “anyone at my school.”

The power wielded by Anderson through his connections with powerful legislators such as Leslie Herrod, Steven Woodrow, and Jennifer Bacon (to name only a few) lent an untouchability to Anderson that was felt not only by his victims but also educators and advocates.

As Mary Katherine Brooks Fleming explained, allegations remained untouched because without victims’ police testimonies, anyone who wanted to protect these girls was unable to do so. Even if the teachers wanted to do something, their hands were tied. The entire system failed these children.

Now, as child victims reluctantly over the coming days, weeks, months, and even years or decades turn to police that their groups have very little historical confidence in, those police must be sensitive to the fact that the system has failed. These kids feel as if they can’t trust anyone, understandably, and the system must ensure justice is served swiftly, severely, and certainly. There is no room for error in restoring justice for these underserved children.

Anderson must be arrested soon.

Irma Rovva

The Colorado Herald