Education

Tay Anderson Can't Quit Social Media Despite Controversy Fallout

This photo of Tay Anderson speaking to demonstrators is on the home page of his personal website.
This photo of Tay Anderson speaking to demonstrators is on the home page of his personal website. tayanderson.org
On September 20, after a long and expensive investigation into sexual misconduct accusations failed to substantiate the most serious charges but slapped him for alleged online bullying, Denver School Board member Tay Anderson tweeted: "I’m taking some time off of social media — I’ve locked down or deactivated most of my public accounts. I have to prioritize my mental health and spend time with my son. This has been a lot, but I’m ready to rebuild."

But Anderson is clearly struggling with making a clean break from social media despite the negative fallout, including last week's widespread school walkouts by students demanding his resignation. While some of Anderson's social media accounts are offline, he's been active on at least four others. Thus far, however, his shares have been far more professional than the item that got him into the most trouble: a Bugs Bunny meme in which the wascally wabbit responded to a revolver pointed at his face with the comment, "Do it, bitch."

At this point, Anderson is completely off the hook with law enforcement. The Denver Police Department never confirmed to Westword that an investigation into the accusations against Anderson was under way. But on Friday, September 24, attorney Christopher Decker, who represents Anderson, told us, "DPD Detective Curtis Johnson confirmed to me that their investigations into Director Anderson have been presented to the Denver DA’s office, which has declined to file any charges." The Denver District Attorney's Office subsequently verified this information, stating that prosecutors didn't feel any crime could be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.

Anderson hasn't done any public victory laps about being cleared, but neither has he remained silent. While the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram links on his personal website are currently inactive, his "Director Tay" Facebook page remains accessible, and he's used it frequently since September 20. On September 25, he announced a town hall scheduled for October 2, and the next day, he celebrated "the Sojourners Project by IDEAs.... This was an amazing opportunity to learn about the history of Denver Public Schools and our history of segregation. This night has inspired me to not only assist in bringing this home to Denver Public Schools, but also to find pragmatic ways to end the re-segregation of our schools today."


Early on September 27, he wrote: "As of now I can NOT in good faith vote to close or consolidate a single school in Denver. This past week, 19 campuses have been told they are on the 'list' for consolidation/closure. I still have not received this list and certainly do not believe in disrupting communities."

And later in the day, he posted: "Today the road of healing began in Northwest Denver. I was able to have a restorative circle with educators in Northwest Denver. Answering their concerns and questions from the last six months, take accountability, and identify next steps on how we move forward as a district. Today was just the beginning as I get ready to hold regional restorative circles to heal the harm this last six months has had on all of us."

He closed with the hashtag #backtowork.

Over the weekend, Anderson used his Director Tay Instagram site to hype the aforementioned October 2 town hall, and he's been tweeting up a storm on two Twitter accounts: @TayAndersonCO and @DirectorTay.

On September 21, a day after his message about taking time off social media, Anderson tweeted, "As the sun rises over a divided city, we wake up today and have to begin a new path forward. The battle for Denver Public Schools is OVER and it’s time for us to rebuild. Even if I have to pick up the pieces alone, I will. I’m bruised but not broken...." He followed that up with this September 22 revelation: "Today I was threatened by an attorney that they were going to release my student transcripts that they obtained illegally to the media, if I didn’t resign from my position. I’m not hiding anything and I’ve been transparent about the struggles I had as a student in school."

Since then, Anderson has tweeted a video of his young son and a jokey anecdote ("If you see Khalil and I jamming out to music in the car, mind your business lol. We’re jamming"), sent out yet another alert about the October 2 town hall, and delivered an update about COVID-19 stats that reads: "Denver Public Schools has had 525 (POSITIVE COVID-19 CASES) out of 108,000 students and staff. This is less than .5 percent of the total population in DPS. GREAT JOB TEAM DPS!"

Meanwhile, over on the @DirectorTay page, Anderson decried the possible shutdown of any DPS campuses by stressing, "We need clear plans to families, and them finding out on social media is NOT good governance."

Yes, Anderson criticized social media on social media — which is obviously a hard habit to break.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts