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Civil rights complaint dismissed

The Office for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education has dismissed a complaint filed against Denver’s school board president and the entire board over the way it filled a seat left vacant when Nate Easley resigned.

OCR spokesman Jim Bradshaw on Monday said the agency had dismissed the complaint filed by the Denver chapter of the Colorado Latino Forum after determining “it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint allegations involving local government political processes such as elections, interim or political appointments.”

Easley resigned his northeast Denver seat in January due to increasing work demands as he took over the helm of the Denver Scholarship Foundation. The Latino Forum raised concerns because there were no Latinos among the finalists for the seat, yet more than half of the student’s in northeast Denver are Latino and the original pool of 25 candidates contained three Latinos.

However, under Colorado state law, the school board president has the authority to appoint a person to a vacant school board seat if consensus cannot be reached within 60 days of a resignation.

In the complaint, the forum asked the OCR to:

  • Add a qualified Latino to the finalist pool before the March 18 appointment deadline.
  • Conduct an investigation to determine whether there has been a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
  • Facilitate a mediation meeting between the parties in an attempt to obtain voluntary compliance.
  • Initiate enforcement action, either by referring the case to the Department of Justice for court action, or by initiating proceedings before an administrative law judge, if voluntary compliance fails.

When the board couldn’t reach consensus around finalists urban teacher educator Antwan Jefferson, head of the Denver Urban League Landri Taylor or lawyer Taggart Hansen, board President Mary Seawell appointed Taylor to the board seat.

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