Newly appointed Denver school board member MiDian Holmes pleaded guilty to child abuse in 2006 after police found she left her three children home alone for more than eight hours while she was at work, according to court documents obtained by Chalkbeat.
The kids were 7, 6 and 2 years old at the time, according to the documents.
The account spelled out in a police report is different from the story Holmes relayed to district officials and to the media — that she pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse after her two-year-old daughter wandered out the front door while she was getting ready for work.
Board members, district officials and allies rallied to Holmes’ defense after her criminal record first came to light Wednesday, citing Holmes’ story of her child going missing and saying any parent could relate to such a terrifying turn of events.
Holmes said that any child abuse charges stemmed entirely from that incident. But court records, provided by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, make clear that wasn’t the case.
Chalkbeat reached Holmes by text on Thursday, but she said she was not immediately available for an interview.
The Denver school board met Thursday afternoon behind closed doors to discuss the matter with an attorney. After the meeting, Board President Anne Rowe told Chalkbeat the board would hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Friday to discuss Holmes’s appointment. She declined to comment further.
Holmes, now 35, was charged with misdemeanor child abuse resulting in “any injury other than serious bodily injury,” the newly released records show. She ended up pleading guilty to misdemeanor child abuse resulting in no injury, according to court documents.
She was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to take parenting classes, documents show. But according to court records, her probation officer requested her probation be revoked for failure to complete the classes, pay her fines and because she was “considered high risk.”
The court imposed an additional six months of probation, records show.
Court records indicate that in March 2006, police received a 911 hangup call from Holmes’s home. When an officer showed up shortly after 3 p.m., he found her three children “hiding upstairs,” records say. The officer reported the kids had been home alone since 7 a.m.
Holmes “was called and her response time home was 35 minutes,” court documents say.
Initially, Holmes told the police that the children’s father had been at the house since 6:45 a.m. to watch them, according to the records. But when the kids told police they hadn’t seen their father in two years, Holmes “came clean and stated that she lied because she thought they would take her children away,” court documents show.
Holmes and her children were subsequently interviewed by the Denver Department of Human Services, according to court records. One of her children said Holmes had left them alone before, usually when she was at work or cheerleading, the documents show.
When asked what she did for discipline, Holmes “related that she does ‘whoop’ them, usually with her hand and not a belt,” according to the documents.
A records search also turned up a court case from November 2005 in which Holmes was charged with “wrongs to minors” in violation of the Denver municipal code. Court records indicate she was ordered to take parenting classes and sentenced to a year of probation. The charge was eventually dismissed, according to documents.
It is unclear how much the board knew about Holmes’s past before they voted.
Holmes is a parent activist who has been active on DPS committees and was a longstanding volunteer leader for Stand for Children, a pro-education reform advocacy group.
Jeani Frickey Saito, executive director of Stand for Children Colorado, said Thursday that the organization was not aware of the circumstances of Holmes’ conviction described in the newly disclosed records, and that she had not spoken with Holmes since they came to light.
“It’s an unfortunate situation,” Frickey Saito said, “and we are just waiting to see what the next steps are from the board or from MiDian.”
Eric Gorski and Nic Garcia of Chalkbeat Colorado contributed to this report.
Editor’s note: DPS board president Anne Rowe is married to Frank Rowe, Chalkbeat’s director of sponsorships. Frank Rowe’s position is not part of Chalkbeat’s news operation.