13 April 2016

The Denver Public School Board's Newest Director Needs To Resign Immediately

A newly appointed Denver Public School Board director lied on her application and has a criminal history, which includes a 15-day jail sentence for child abuse, according to court documents. MiDian Holmes was named the new Board Director for Northeast Denver on Tuesday in a special election meeting to replace vacated board member Landri Taylor's seat.

Holmes, 35, was charged with wrongs to minors in 2005, according to court documents. She was sentenced to parenting classes and supervised probation. The case was later dismissed. In 2006, Holmes was charged and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor negligent child abuse charge with no injuries. She was sentenced to 15 days in jail.

On her application for the board director position, Holmes answered "no" to ever having been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. The application states that "potential applicants will be subject to a criminal background check.". . . .

More than 20 people initially applied for the opening, and the board narrowed the field to 10 finalists in March.
From here.

There is some merit in limiting the amount of information job applicants should have to disclose. But, particularly when no law prohibits requiring criminal record disclosures for prospective public officials appointed to fill vacancies, there is absolutely no justification for lying about a criminal record in an application for such a vacancy, particularly for a school board applicant when the case involves harm to children. And, in this particular context, there is no plausible way that the candidate merely "forgot" about the fact that she spent 15 days in jail, just ten years ago, for child neglect or abuse.

I might have been sympathetic to the appointee if she disclosed and explained the conviction in a satisfactory way.  But, as the events played out, it is very hard to be sympathetic. MiDian Holmes needs to immediately resign from the office she was appointed to yesterday.

UPDATE: The Denver Post has revised its original story to note that the claim in the press release for her appointment inaccurately says she was a DU graduate when her resume did not claim that she was and asserts that the conviction was disclosed and that the application was worded in a way that wouldn't require this disclosure.

A 9 News account of the same story is found here and suggests that the public records and the candidate's account of the events do not seem to square with each other.

Nonetheless, it is very hard to be comfortable with this appointment when the DPS school board was not up front with the public about these issues with their appointee, when they should have known full well that these issues would come out sooner or later. This remains a case of very bad judgment on the part of the school board, and it still isn't at all obvious to me that Ms. Holmes should remain on the school board in these circumstances. Certainly, my confidence in the DPS school board is diminished.

Ms. Holmes is actually not scheduled to be sworn in until Monday, and while the DPS board appears to back Holmes and she clearly does not intend to resign, the board would be well advised to reconsider its vote and appoint a different candidate before Holmes is sworn in.

SECOND UPDATE:  Further reporting makes pretty clear that Ms. Holmes was not truthful in explaining the incidents that gave rise to her child neglect conviction.

The DPS board should change their mind and decline to seat her on the board.  It looks likely that they will at least consider the option tomorrow:
The Denver school board met Thursday afternoon behind closed doors to discuss the matter with an attorney. After the meeting, Board President Anne Rowe told Chalkbeat the board would hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Friday to discuss Holmes’s appointment.
A full report of the 2006 incident also reveals that Ms. Holmes initially lied to responding police officers telling them that her three children left unattended all day had been with their father whom they had actually not seen for the past two years, but changed her story when the children told police that they hadn't been with their father.

1 comment:

andrew said...

MiDian Holmes has withdrawn her name from consideration in light of the controversy.