Originally posted on Chalkbeat by Melanie Asmar and Eric Gorski on April 14, 2016
MiDian Holmes announced on her Facebook page Thursday night that she would not accept her appointment to the Denver school board, saying she did not want to be a distraction after details of a misdemeanor child abuse conviction became public.
“When I ran for the school board appointment, my intentions were pure,” the longtime parent activist wrote. “I did so not thinking that my past would be the focus…I did so with my eyes and ambition on the future.
“The reality is clear that my past has the media and several members of the community mystified and I would be doing a great disservice to the 90,000 students of Denver Public Schools if I continued to allow this to be a distraction.”
DPS board president Anne Rowe released a statement saying the board accepts Holmes’ decision. The board will continue to search for a member to represent northeast Denver, Rowe said.
Court records show that Holmes was charged on two occasions with offenses relating to children: once in November 2005 and once in March 2006.
In 2005, she was charged with “wrongs to minors” in violation of the Denver municipal code. Documents explaining what led to the charges were not immediately available. Holmes was sentenced to a year of probation, after which the case was dismissed.
In 2006, she was charged with child abuse in violation of state law. Documents reveal that Holmes left her three young children — age 7, 6 and 2 — home alone for more than eight hours while she was at work. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse and again was sentenced to probation.
A DPS background check conducted as part of the appointment process turned up the child abuse conviction. Holmes said she called the district to explain, saying that it stemmed from her two-year-old daughter wandering out of their apartment, being found by a neighbor and police being called.
Holmes provided the same explanation to the media. She denied there were two cases.
In the statement on her Facebook page, Holmes said she decided to keep the details of the one case private because she “was not aware (they) would be of public record.”
“I made this decision to protect the privacy of my children and my family,” she wrote on Facebook. “It was an omission, by design, to protect them from, what I thought would be, unwarranted backlash.”
Holmes also addressed the details of what happened, writing, “were my children too young to be left at home alone? Absolutely. When this happened, 10 years ago, I was a young mother and was faced with making the choice of either going to work (which was my only source of income) or staying at home with my 3 children.”
She said she made the difficult decision to go to work and faced the consequences.
Holmes also thanked her supporters and vowed to continue speaking out.
“Reluctantly, I am not going to accept the board’s appointment and will not take the seat,” she wrote on Facebook.
Holmes added: “Those that have offered me support through this process…shall we meet, again, in 2017? *wink, wink*.” The northeast Denver board seat became vacant when former board member Landri Taylor resigned in February. The person who replaces him will serve out the term, which expires in 2017.
Rowe said in her statement that the board believes “what drove MiDian to apply for the vacancy position was her deep concern for not only the well-being of her own children, but the educational opportunities that face all of Denver kids.
“As a young single mother over a decade ago, MiDian faced some of the same wrenching challenges many of our DPS families struggle with every day,” Rowe said. “While we don’t condone some of her decisions in response to those challenges, we appreciate her statement to take responsibility for those actions.”
Chalkbeat Colorado is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.
Photo credit: Stand for Children