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***Update: The notes from the Oregon Legislature indicated the Iowa Attorney General’s Office was conducting an audit of GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce (Iowa Safe Schools). Auditor Rob Sand’s office confirmed it is conducting an investigation. The AG Office may conduct a cursory investigation, but it is the duty of the AUditor to conduct financial investigations.***

It was a curious departure when former executive director Nate Monson left GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce (Iowa Safe Schools, as it is fictitiously known). Monson served as executive director for GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce since 2007.

In 2016, he refused to meet with lawmakers who were investigating the “vile, disgusting” things that took place at the 2015 Iowa Governor’s Conference hosted by GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce.

But late last year, Monson departed from perhaps the most dangerous organization in the state of Iowa. There was never a post like “thank you for your service,” “best of luck in the future,” etc.

It was sudden. And it was quiet.

It wasn’t how GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce operates. At all.

I checked with some people who I thought would have a good idea about what happened, but nobody knew. GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce certainly was not going to volunteer any information.

It turns out Monson ended up in Oregon as the leader in the Legislative Equity Office. He resigned not long after taking the job, though. He was already under investigation.

Monson misrepresented his work history and offered misleading references, according to a report by Jessica Knieling, interim HR director for the Oregon Legislature. He also left his former Iowa job amid concerns about harassment and financial mismanagement.

Knieling wrote on June 8 she was “deeply troubled” about the information shared with her. She had hoped when she first got the email it was a “simple misunderstanding.”

Among the concerns, Monson said he worked for six months at the Iowa Coalition for Collective Change. According to Luana Nelson-Brown, the coalition’s executive director, that wasn’t true.

Nelson-Brown said they had been “friendly colleagues” who talked about him coming to work for the coalition, but it was “never anything close to what he listed on his resume.” In fact, the position Monson listed was not a title or position the organization ever had.

She said her board of directors would not allow her to hire Monson because of “the issues” he had at GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce. Monson was fired in 2020 from the organization, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Nelson-Brown suggested Monson’s “supervision and racism” had become a concern in his role and a financial audit by the Auditor’s office was underway.

The report states that Nelson-Brown liked Monson, but could not hire him because “the queer community do (sic) not have excellent things to say.”

Knieling said that Monson “could be good for some roles at the legislature, but Equity is not one of them.”

Monson also listed one reference as a GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce board member but failed to point out that individual was a high school student who acted as a student representative with no supervisor authority.

Monson listed a board member at the Iowa Coalition for Collective Change as a reference, but that person had never been on the board. The person had served on the board of GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce instead.

“The Board President said she would have serious concerns about him in such a role,” Knieling wrote in the memo. “I asked if he had engaged in unlawful harassment or discrimination. She said she would not say unlawful, but it had been very inappropriate.”

Monson told Oregon officials during interviews that he had “intentionally left” GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce.

The June 8 memo was written one week prior to Monson submitting his own resignation. Monson had been advised of a plan to schedule a meeting to review his employment and tendered his resignation instead.

Jan Reinicke, the president of GLBT Youth In Iowa Schools Taskforce, said on Nov. 5, 2020 the organization reached a severance agreement with Monson. The agreement was breached, so they stopped payment.

Monson’s contract was terminated “for a specific reason.” It also seems after Monson left, they discovered financial improprieties with discrepancies on information and assets of the organization.

Author: Jacob Hall