This story was originally published by Chalkbeat. Sign up for their newsletters at ckbe.at/newsletters
Denver Public Schools signed a settlement agreement with school board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson that said the district would pay Anderson $3,500 — and Anderson agreed not to sue DPS for “damages, costs, or expenses” related to a 2021 investigation.
That’s according to a copy of the settlement agreement released by DPS Monday. The agreement was drafted in October 2022 but not signed until March. Separate district records show the district paid Anderson $3,500 in March out of the school board budget.
DPS Chief Financial Officer Chuck Carpenter signed the agreement on behalf of the district. The school board did not vote on the agreement, and some board members said they were not aware of the payment until recently. The agreement includes a clause meant to keep it secret.
“The Parties will not release a copy of this Agreement in response to any request under the Colorado Open Records Act, unless required to do so by a court order,” it says.
Colorado courts have repeatedly ruled that settlement agreements by political entities are subject to public records law. After DPS refused to make the agreement public, attorney Steve Zansberg advocated for its release on behalf of both Chalkbeat and the Denver Post.
DPS General Counsel Aaron Thompson maintained that the settlement agreement was confidential but released it after Anderson, who is running for a Denver-based state House seat, consented to do so.