LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Days after a teacher claimed in a lawsuit that he sexually harassed her, Spencer County Public Schools Superintendent Chuck Adams has been placed on paid administrative leave until May 10.
What's more, the Spencer County Board of Education's former chairperson, Jeanie Stevens, resigned from her seat on the panel following Monday's school board meeting.
The school board voted 4-0 Monday to place Adams on paid administrative leave as it investigates claims that Adams sexually harassed a teacher, Stevens told WDRB News on Tuesday. Stevens abstained from the vote because she had decided to resign from the board, she said.
Stevens said she resigned Monday evening because she is friends with Adams and the teacher who accused him of sexually harassing her. The board is set to meet again May 10, and Assistant Superintendent Chuck Abell will serve as acting superintendent while Adams is on paid administrative leave, she said.
Stevens directed further comment on the matter to the board's attorney, Grant Chenoweth, who told WDRB News that the board's insurance company would assign a different lawyer to handle the matter this week.
Adams declined to comment on the lawsuit, and he said his placement on paid leave "is simply protocol in situations such as this."
"I look forward to returning soon," he said in a message to WDRB News.
Lynn Shelburne, the board's vice chairperson, declined to comment on the board's decision to place Adams on paid administrative leave or the lawsuit in an emailed statement to WDRB News.
"However, I will say that the Spencer County Board of Education has and will always be committed to providing our students with a high quality education," Shelburne said. "Our success is largely due to our dedicated teachers and staff and I believe that in the absence of Superintendent Adams, Assistant Superintendent Abell will continue to bring laser focus to classroom and student achievement. Our mission and goals remain unchanged."
Thomas Clay, the attorney representing the teacher who said Adams sexually harassed her in a lawsuit filed against the school board Wednesday, welcomed news that Adams had been placed on leave pending an investigation.
"It's about time because apparently this conduct was widely known throughout the educational community of Spencer County," he said during an interview Tuesday. "Nobody did anything about it."
He also said he hoped to learn more about why Stevens decided to resign during a sworn deposition.
"I hope we'll have some information about the real reason, and then we can make an inquiry about that with her being under oath," Clay said.
The teacher represented by Clay claims she received unwanted attention from Adams starting shortly after she was hired by the school district in October 2018, saying in the lawsuit that the superintendent often visited her classroom and rarely discussed work issues with her.
The woman also accused Adams of sending her unsolicited phone calls and text messages, such as reaching out to her while she took personal leave and when she did not attend a school board meeting, and seeking her out at school sporting events. In two instances included in the lawsuit, the woman says Adams grabbed her foot while walking by her on the bleachers at a basketball game and reached into a box of candy she was holding and touched her hand while at another basketball game.
While the woman is named in court records, WDRB News does not identify alleged victims of sexual harassment.
The teacher claims the school board knew of the situation in April and "failed to implement prompt and appropriate corrective action and, in fact, compounded Plaintiff's damages by not taking steps to remove Superintendent Adams from her work area," according to the lawsuit.
The woman says in the lawsuit that Stevens called her on April 6 and asked her about the situation.
Her lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, attorney's fees, injunctive relief, and either judgment against the school board or a jury trial.
Clay said the situation has taken an "emotional toll" on his client, but she has not faced any repercussions since coming forward with her allegations.
He also expects others to come forward with similar allegations, he said.
"I've gotten some phone calls I haven't had a chance to return yet, but given time, I'm certainly going to reach out to them and see what they can add to the situation here that's gone on with this man apparently for a substantial period of time," Clay said.
"If they want to go to war, we'll go to war," he said of the prospect of a lengthy legal battle. "If they want to try to resolve this through negotiations, we're receptive to that as well."
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