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Thomas Woods-Tucker visits a Douglas County School District classroom. Photo provided by the Kentucky Department of Education.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky Department of Education’s incoming deputy commissioner and first chief equity officer resigned from his job as superintendent of a Colorado school district in September while he was the subject of a workplace discrimination investigation.

Thomas Woods-Tucker, who was announced Wednesday as the state’s new deputy education commissioner and chief equity officer starting Nov. 2, resigned as superintendent of Douglas County School District in Castle Rock, Colorado, effective Sept. 30.

Woods-Tucker was placed on paid leave and under investigation after an employee accused him of workplace discrimination on Sept. 1, and he submitted his resignation Sept. 8, citing personal and family reasons, according to news reports. Details of the employee's claims have not been reported.

Education Commissioner Jason Glass said the district's investigation ultimately cleared Woods-Tucker.

KDE was aware of the Douglas County School District’s investigation before hiring Woods-Tucker, who will oversee the state’s Office of Teaching and Learning and earn $130,000 per year in his new role, according to Chief Communications Officer Toni Konz Tatman.

“In the course of his exit from Douglas County School District, an allegation was made against Dr. Woods-Tucker regarding workplace discrimination,” Glass said in a statement. “The district appointed an independent third-party investigator, and the district ultimately cleared Dr. Woods-Tucker of the allegations of workplace discrimination. 

“These kinds of allegations should be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly and in a timely manner – which is what happened in this case. As Dr. Woods-Tucker has been cleared, these unsubstantiated allegations should not be used to damage his professional reputation or career.”

Paula Hans, a spokesperson for the Douglas County School District, said in an email Thursday that the district's investigator found that while the complaint was filed "in good faith," no policy violation occurred.

Glass, who began as education commissioner Sept. 14, served as superintendent of Jeffco Public Schools in nearby Golden, Colorado, before returning to Kentucky.

Glass called Woods-Tucker “a distinguished education leader” and said he was “tremendously excited about the talent and expertise” the incoming deputy commissioner and chief equity officer offers to KDE.

“Having Dr. Woods-Tucker lead our Office of Teaching and Learning and serve as our first chief equity officer really go hand-in-hand with the work we are trying to do at the department to improve the educational journey for each and every student in the Commonwealth,” he said in a Wednesday news release announcing Woods-Tucker’s hiring.

Woods-Tucker, who was named the national superintendent of the year in 2013 by the National Alliance of Black School Educators and in 2016 by the American Association of School Administrators while working in Ohio, said he looked forward to the challenge of improving racial equity in schools throughout Kentucky, a commitment endorsed in a resolution passed June 10 by the Kentucky Board of Education.

“This a responsibility that comes with a great deal of humility,” Woods-Tucker said in a statement.

“There’s no better opportunity than to work with equity at the state level and to ensure that every student, regardless of his or her ethnicity, regardless of his or her zip code, is ensured an equitable education.”

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