Cherry Creek school board president resigns amid controversy over ‘tar baby’ comment

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AURORA | Cherry Creek Board of Education President David Willman resigned from his position Friday after using a “racist term” to describe his former teacher during public remarks to the Teachers Awards Banquet this week.

Dave Willman

Cherry Creek School District Superintendent Scott Siegfried announced Willman’s resignation Friday in a letter to the district community, which also included Willman’s resignation letter.

“It became clear to me in these unique times that the board needed a strong and consistent leadership message moving forward within our community, thus my time in this role on the Board of Education needs to come to a completion,” Willman said the resignation letter.

Willman penned an apology letter Wednesday for using a “racist term” in his public remarks, but did not specify the term he used. District spokeswoman Abbe Smith said Wednesday that Willman said he and his classmates nicknamed a teacher “tar baby” when they were school children because the person’s first or last name was Tar.

Willman’s resignation ends his almost eight years serving on the Cherry Creek Board of Education. Willman served two four-year terms beginning in 2011, and would have been term limited in November.

Willman’s seat is currently vacant. Smith said individuals interested in filling the vacancy can submit applications to the school board, which would conduct interviews and vote on a replacement.

“It has been my absolute honor and privilege being a part of the 69-year history of the Cherry Creek School District in service on the Cherry Creek Board of Education,” Willman added. “I am so proud of you and all we have accomplished in the past recent years, and I have no doubt the board will continue these successes in the future.”