Denver Public Schools Suspends The Special Education Director After Prior Allegations

Denver Public Schools Suspends The Special Education Director After Prior Allegations | Future Education Magazine


The Denver Public Schools’ director of special education has been placed on administrative leave after it was discovered that, at the time of his hiring, he had previously been accused of making sexually suggestive statements to high school girls.

Michael Winston, who also went by the name Phil Winston while he served as principal of a California school under investigation for misbehaviour, was placed on leave, according to a spokeswoman for the school district on Thursday. However, the official was unable to specify why or offer any other information.

The district claimed to The Colorado Sun in October that Winston’s hiring and subsequent promotion were made without their knowledge of the prior accusations. Winston was given a notice of “unprofessional conduct and unsatisfactory performance” in 2015; as a result, he reached a settlement with the Palo Alto school system and was awarded $150,000.

Because Winston had never been convicted of a crime or even charged with one, he was able to pass a background check before being hired by Denver Public Schools. Numerous articles regarding Winston’s problems in Palo Alto would have come up in a Google search if it had been done under the other name.

District spokesperson Scott Pribble stated at the time that looking up news articles or other documents online about a prospective employee was not a part of the background check procedure.

Winston’s work for Denver Public Schools has been deemed “exemplary” by district officials, who told The Sun in October that the district stood behind its hiring decision. He was hired in 2020 as an instructional specialist for special education, elevated to senior manager of special education after about a year, and then elevated to director of special education last year.

Winston made a deal with the Palo Alto Unified School District and left his position as a special education teacher for middle school students in 2015. He had previously resigned from his position as principal of Palo Alto High School, when he was charged with making sexually indecent remarks to staff members and students.

Winston previously declined to speak to The Sun, and on Thursday, he was not reachable.

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