Case Number: 2021CV33225
Court: Denver District Court
Clients: The Denver Post, The Denver North Star
Response to Application Filed: Dec. 3, 2021
Background: In April 2021, the Denver Public School Board of Education hired Investigations Law Group to look into allegations that Tay Anderson, a school board director, had engaged in sexual misconduct. The school district released the firm’s investigative report to the public in September 2021. The report found that the most serious allegations against Anderson were not substantiated, but the school board concluded that he had engaged in “behavior unbecoming of a board member.” At Anderson’s request, the district redacted large portions of the report.
The Denver Post and The Denver North Star separately submitted requests under the Colorado Open Records Act seeking access to an unredacted version of the investigative report. Anderson objected to the release of the unredacted report.
Instead of issuing responses to the news organizations’ requests, the school board asked the Denver District Court to make a determination about whether the redacted portions of the report could be disclosed. The Denver Post and The Denver North Star, represented by Reporters Committee Local Legal Initiative Attorney Rachael Johnson, then responded to the district’s request, arguing in a court filing that the unredacted report is a public record under the state’s Open Records Act and that its disclosure will not cause substantial injury to the public interest.
Quote: “There is a compelling public interest in access to the ILG Report. As is evident from the numerous news reports, social media mentions, podcast interviews, and public testimony that the allegations against Mr. Anderson have spurred, the public has a strong (and legitimate) interest in understanding…and evaluating the investigation that the DPS Board conducted to ensure the process was fair,” Johnson wrote in the response on behalf of The Denver Post and The Denver North Star. “Lastly, there is strong public interest in being able to independently assess the veracity of Mr. Anderson’s publicly filed claims that the Report completely exonerates him of any wrongdoing.”
Update: On Feb. 14, 2022, the Denver District Court found that the sections of the investigative report sought by the newspapers were records of a sexual harassment complaint or investigation under the Colorado Open Records Act and their disclosure was not required.
2021-10-12: DPS declaratory judgment application