During its 10 p.m. broadcast on May 2, nearly two weeks after Westword revealed that an investigation into former Manual principal Nick Dawkins found he had violated Denver Public Schools policies related to "equal employment opportunity and non-discrimination" and "procedures for the investigation of employee complaints of discrimination or harassment," 9News reported that DPS had finally sent a letter to Manual parents about the inquiry.
But that wasn't true. Or at least it's not true yet.
Yesterday, May 3, Denver Public Schools provided Westword with a copy of the letter, issued under the signature of Nicole Veltzé, the assistant superintendent in DPS's division of secondary education, and as 9News noted, it included a line stating that the Dawkins inquiry "conclusively found the complaints were credible and consistent." Elsewhere, it stressed that "Denver Public Schools will not tolerate retaliation in any form whatsoever against anyone who came forward with complaints."
However, Alexandra Renteria, DPS's manager of media relations, subsequently informed us that the letter hadn't been sent to Manual parents yet and was actually just a draft; it was dated May 1. She expected that a new version of the document would be distributed to Manual families after a new principal is named — probably later today or on Monday, May 7.
Renteria also offered the following addendum: "DPS did complete its investigation into the complaints made concerning Mr. Dawkins. We provided letters to the complainants with the investigation findings, consistent with our policy. However, in order to protect the complainants, those letters and the findings they contain cannot be released to the public, and we will not be issuing a public statement about the findings."
As this comment suggests, the draft of the letter didn't get into specifics about allegations against Dawkins, including assertions that he'd made inappropriate racial and sexual comments.
Then, last night, Anna Alejo, DPS's chief communications officer, passed along another letter, penned by senior counsel Michelle Berge and distributed to members of the Manual staff on May 2. This document, too, uses the "credible and consistent" phrase and reiterates the warning about reprisals: "DPS will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who raises concerns or participates in an investigation." Read it below in its entirety.
What's the environment like at Manual today? According to ex-Friends of Manual board chair Lainie Hodges, a Dawkins supporter, members of the school's community remain "devastated over what's happened" and have expressed frustration over "the fact that this narrative about Nick is being put out there by anonymous people, with charges and evidence that's not known. That's another reason why this has broken so many hearts."
The healing hasn't started yet — and at this writing, parents and students, whether they are defenders or detractors of Dawkins, continue to wait for more information from Denver Public Schools about an investigation that many of them know was wrapped up last month.
Continue to see the staff letter.
Manual staff letter:
Dear Manual Staff,
Thank you for your commitment to Manual. We wanted to notify you that the investigation regarding former Principal Nick Dawkins has been completed. The investigation found that, based on the totality of the evidence, there were violations of the Board policy regarding discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
During the investigation, a full opportunity was provided for all to interview with the outside investigator, including those that raised concerns about Mr. Dawkins. The investigator exchanged emails with and spoke with both Mr. Dawkins and his attorney to request an interview.
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Denver Public Schools, per Board of Education policy, shared the outcome of the investigation with the individuals who brought forward concerns. Although privacy laws prevent us from releasing the details of the investigation, we want to reiterate that DPS is committed to protecting and supporting everyone who came forward and participated in the investigation. The outside investigator found that the witnesses she interviewed were credible and consistent. DPS will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who raises concerns or participates in an investigation.
As always, please notify us immediately if you need to report any concerns regarding discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
Michelle M. Berge
Senior Counsel/Executive Director