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Aurora school board limits embattled Nelson’s role, censure vote to come

Aurora school board member Eric Nelson in a campaign photo.
Aurora school board member Eric Nelson in a campaign photo.
Nelson For Colorado

AURORA — Eric Nelson was stripped of his secretary title and will no longer be allowed to use a district credit card for expenses after the school board here sought to limit the embattled director’s role in district governance.

In another vote, the board decided the district would not cover expenses Nelson might incur if he chooses to travel to a national conference.

But the board stopped short of cutting him off from attending conferences hosted by the state’s association of school boards. Members said he had a right to attend and said they hoped the local training would make Nelson a better school board member.

The string of votes comes after the district hired a private investigator who confirmed Nelson lied about his education, military experience and professional relationships in the community. The allegations that Nelson lied on his resume were first reported by the Colorado Statesman in June.

After the votes on Tuesday, multiple school board members repeated their request for Nelson to step down, calling his actions a “disgrace” and “distraction.”

“None of us are without fault, but what you’re doing is undermining our ability to help kids,” said board member Dan Jorgensen.

“When you speak, I don’t know whether you’re telling the truth or not,” said board member Cathy Wildman.

“I do not believe the act of Mr. Nelson continuing to keep a seat warm at the board table is in the best interest of the district, students, or this board as it strives to model good governance and goes before the community with a major bond initiative this November,” said board member JulieMarie Shepherd.

While Nelson participated earlier during other discussions, he did not address the private investigator’s report. During the board’s discussion, Nelson took notes and asked clarifying questions.

Earlier in the evening, one APS employee asked during public comment for Nelson to resign.

“I implore you to please have the dignity to say that Aurora Public School is larger than me,” said Gwynn Moore, a technology teacher at Aurora Frontier K-8. “And the students I wish to influence are larger than me.”

The votes taken on Tuesday will not be the end of this controversy. Board President Amber Drevon directed the district’s lawyer to draft a resolution for censure to be voted on at a later meeting. And the Aurora Sentinel reported that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, urged the U.S. attorney’s office to investigate whether Nelson violated federal law.

Nelson declined to speak to reporters after the meeting.

— Reporting intern Wesely Wright contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Gwynn Moore’s name.

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