Douglas County schools superintendent investigated for alleged 'workplace discrimination'

Thomas Tucker remains on paid administrative leave

Posted
UPDATE: Departed Douglas County School District Superintendent Thomas Tucker was later cleared of violating district policy.
 
Outgoing Douglas County School District Superintendent Thomas Tucker was placed on paid administrative leave in the week leading up to his resignation as the district investigates him for allegations of "workplace discrimination," according to a statement from the school district.
 
Tucker remains on paid administrative leave, according to a public records request. His leave began Sept. 2. The school district initially declined to comment when Colorado Community Media first reported the investigation on Sept. 11, but provided a statement on Sept. 15 confirming the district received the complaint from a district employee on Sept. 1.
 
"Per DCSD policy and consisent with best practice, the board of education immediately placed Dr. Tucker on paid administrative leave and retained a third-party investigator to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the allegations," the statement said. "Because this is a personnel matter regarding an ongoing investigation, we cannot share additional details at this time."
 
A letter that school board President David Ray sent to Tucker on Sept. 3 said "this paid administrative leave is not disciplinary in nature but is for the purpose of protecting your rights as well as the interests of the district during the investigative period."
 
Reached by phone on Sept. 11, Tucker said his paid leave is standard procedure when a complaint is made against any district employee. Tucker said he did not know who made the complaint or what the allegations against him are.
 
“There is nothing in that letter that says there is any wrongdoing on my part,” Tucker said. “That’s a form letter that goes out any time there is a complaint.”
 
Tucker said he is not guilty of any improper conduct.
 
“This is the most important thing,” he said. “(The letter) does not mean the person is guilty of any wrongdoing.”
 
Ray provided a statement by text message and said board members do not discuss personnel matters and declined to share additional details.
 
Ray also wrote in the letter that the district was hiring an outside investigator to conduct “a fair and impartial independent investigation into this matter, and you are expected to cooperate with the investigator.”
 
Tucker’s keycard was deactivated and he was directed to turn in any district technology devices and any other district property during his leave.
 
The superintendent was also prohibited from going on district property or attending district-sponsored events without the board president’s permission.
 
“In addition, you are not to be in contact with district students, parents or employees,” the letter states.
 
Tucker resigned from the district during an emergency meeting on Sept. 8, citing personal and family matters. Tucker’s family still resides in Ohio, where he previously worked, he said, and his mother is battling health complications.
 
Tucker steps down from his post on Sept. 30. He stressed during the emergency meeting he was not being asked to resign by the board.
Prior to Tucker’s resignation, the district provided a statement to Colorado Community Media stating he was on leave while visiting his ailing mother in Arkansas and that the district had no further comment.
 
A district spokeswoman on Sept. 6 did not respond to questions regarding reports that Tucker was under investigation. A spokesman on Sept. 11 deferred to the administrative leave letter provided through a public records request when asked for comment regarding the investigation.
 
Tucker was hired in April 2018 with a salary of $258,420. He received a 3.5% raise in 2019, bringing his salary to $267,465, but took a 3% pay cut and five-day furlough during the COVID-19 pandemic as public schools across the state experienced budget shortfalls.
 
The district weathered numerous challenges during Tucker’s tenure, including a debate over armed teachers in classrooms and the STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting before COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the education system.
 
Ray and other school board directors offered praise for Tucker in an emotional discussion during the Sept. 8 emergency meeting, with Director Krista Holtzmann breaking into tears and other directors offering condolences for his family struggles.
 
The board closed its meeting with an executive session seeking legal advice from the district’s attorney. Ray said the board would also hear from its “outside legal counsel,” Kristin Edgar from Caplan and Earnest, who specializes in representing institutional clients such as school districts, according to the law firm’s website.

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