Steamboat school board receives updates on high school investigation
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The investigation regarding issues around alleged mishandling of claims of sexual harassment at Steamboat Springs High School is well underway and slated to be completed in 60 days, according to Jane Quimby, the former FBI special agent hired by Caplan & Earnest LLC, legal counsel for the Steamboat Springs School District.
Quimby provided a written update on her investigation as requested by the Steamboat Springs School Board, which Board President Kelly Latterman read at Monday’s regular meeting.
Quimby wrote she is currently reviewing information and interviewing individuals with direct knowledge of “sexual assault, related student misconduct, the administrative response and the application and adequacy of relevant policies and procedures within the school district.”
The investigation will be focused primarily on the past four years.
Quimby reported she has already had contact with more than 40 people, including students, parents, district personnel and community members. She will return later this week for more in-person interviews.
Quimby, of Quimby and Associates based in Grand Junction, was selected with the endorsement of Advocates of Routt County Executive Director Lisel Petis and Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen. She also has experience as a high school teacher, an attorney and in working on school-related investigations with victims of trauma.
The announcement of Quimby’s hiring was made Feb. 3, when district officials also announced Steamboat Springs High School Principal Kevin Taulman has been placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of the investigation.
“This should not be interpreted as any suggestion of wrongdoing but rather as being in his and the district’s best interest as the investigation proceeds,” Superintendent Brad Meeks said in a news release.
“The response of the greater school district community has been highly supportive,” Quimby wrote in her Monday, Feb. 10, update. “And the level of cooperation is very encouraging.”
The interviews, which are voluntary and confidential, are aimed at gaining a “comprehensive and balanced perspective” with widespread participation, Quimby wrote.
“The second phase of the investigation will focus on the climate, culture, leadership and management of the high school, as well as the school district,” Quimby wrote.
She described utilizing surveys to gather input from parents, students, faculty and staff.
Quimby called the 60-day timeline for completion “an ambitious but attainable goal.”
A final report, or series of reports, will be given to the board, Quimby wrote, and “the public release of any investigative report, either in part or in its entirety, will be at their discretion.”
Quimby emphasized that while she has been retained “under the umbrellas of Caplan & Earnest … it is important to note that this investigation is proceeding independently, at her (Quimby’s) sole discretion, without restriction. The investigator (Quimby) is not being guided or directed by the school district, superintendent or any other outside entity. … The investigator recognizes the importance and desire of the community for transparency and details regarding the results of the investigation.”
Latterman read a second letter at Monday’s meeting, this one signed by Richard Bump of Caplan & Earnest.
Quimby was hired by the law firm, Bump wrote, rather than the district based on Quimby’s own recommendation. “We agreed with that,” Bump wrote, because she will be interviewing minors (with parental consent) and will require access to district documents and records. Many of those records are protected, Bump acknowledged, and thus when Quimby releases her final report, to ensure no privacy laws are violated, “we will consult with Ms. Quimby to redact names and any personally identifiable information that is protected.”
In addition, Bump noted the findings are expected to include information “that will enable our firm to provide legal advice to the Board of Education concerning potential personnel matters and/or allegations of sexual harassment or other claims that may form the basis for a threat of litigation.”
There were no public comments regarding the investigation at Monday’s meeting.
In a discussion among board members, Latterman commented she felt things were on a positive track, and board member Katy Lee said she was encouraged at the progress already made by Quimby.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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