This post is informational for the good people of Colville. I believe it is important for this community to understand as much as we can about our new Superintendent. I find it important for people to know that Mr. Pete Lewis was fired from his last position in Fairbanks, Alaska for
“significant allegations of employee misconduct towards students”
To put it more bluntly, an employee named Claude Fowlkes III was arrested for allegedly raping a student multiple times on campus.
Prior to this, Mr. Lewis was made aware of multiple complaints that Mr. Fowlkes was grooming students. The action Mr. Lewis allegedly took was to transfer Mr. Fowlkes to another building without informing the principal of his past behaviors. This action by Mr. Lewis is what allegedly led to the rapes and to Mr. Lewis’ own firing.
Here is an excerpt from a Fairbanks article written on the KSL.com website http://www.ksl.com/?nid=157&sid=29870313
The board cited a “total failure of leadership” by Lewis in the investigation and retention of employees, including Claude Fowlkes III, 34, a tutor at Hutchison High School who was arrested in March and charged with six counts of abusing a student at the school.
“Significant allegations and observations of ‘grooming’ and other alarming behavior with students were either not understood or were not dealt with in a serious manner,” Haas said in a statement signed by all board members.
Problems began at Fowlkes’ previous assignment at another Fairbanks school, Haas said, but the Hutchison principal was not made aware of them, Haas said.
Fowlkes from 2008 to 2014 was the subject of at least three complaints regarding conduct toward male students or minors. He violated district policy and engaged in inappropriate behavior with a male student at Tanana Middle School, the board said, but remained employed.
The superintendent’s unwillingness to perform his duties or inability to do them exposed students to harm and the district to legal vulnerability, the board said. Despite inappropriate student contact, Fowlkes received a glowing recommendation [by Mr. Lewis], Haas said.
You can find links to more informative articles at the bottom of this page.
– Do you as a parent feel our school board was honest with us in every way?
– Why did the school board hire Mr. Lewis two days after he was fired from Fairbanks, AK?
– Why did our board feel the need to rush in a superintendent to our district that had been fired for “significant allegations of employee misconduct towards students”?
– Should this community have been properly informed of Mr. Lewis’ past mistake before he was hired?
– Did our school board do a thorough hiring process, or was Mr. Lewis rushed in? (See post ‘Questionable Interm Superintendent Hiring’ https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/questionable-interim-superintendent-hiring/ )
– Did our school board skip the steps in their own policies that require them to inform the public of a superintendent or interim superintendent search? (Once again, see “Questionable Interim Superintendent Hiring post). If so, why?
– Did our school board rush Interim Superintendent Pete Lewis into a permanent position without a proper Superintendent search (according to school policies) before the public could be informed of Mr. Lewis’ past? (See post ‘Superintendent Hiring Procedures’ https://colvilleparents.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/superintendent-hiring-procedures/ )
– Do you, as a parent, feel comfortable with Mr. Lewis in charge of your children?
FAIRBANKS MEETING MINUTES:
Our school board seems to think that the Fairbanks school board was just trying to hang the problem on Mr. Lewis, so I’ve listed inserts from the meeting minutes for you to see along with the links so you can look at the full minutes. I have posted these in reverse date order starting with Mr. Lewis’ termination and working backwards to the board putting him on leave.
If you want to contact any of the board members, they are very professional and helpful. Here is a link to their contact information http://www.k12northstar.org/boe/school-board-member
Meeting Minutes June 9, 2014 http://www.k12northstar.org/sites/default/files/14-0609-minspmtg-discipline-ongoinginvestigation.pdf
President Haas announced that based on the investigation report, the school board was terminating Pete Lewis’ employment with the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District. The board issued a notice of intent to terminate to Mr. Lewis on May 12, 2014. Mr. Lewis waived his right to a pre-termination hearing on June 5, 2014
President Haas went on to say Mr. Lewis had knowledge of:
1. significant allegations of employee misconduct towards students:
2. failed to ensure others took appropriate action; and
3. took inappropriate action himself.
The investigation also revealed the office of equal employment opportunity and the previous directors of labor relations and human resources reported to and received direction solely from Mr. Lewis. In addition, the board had validated the other assertions in the notice of pre-termination.
President Haas noting Mr. Lewis’s waiver of a pre-termination hearing, would entertain a motion to terminate Mr. Lewis’s employment contract, effective immediately.
Meeting Minutes May 12, 2014 http://www.k12northstar.org/sites/default/files/14-0512-minspmtg-ongoingpersonnelinvestigation.pdf
RICE MOVED, GENTRY SECONDED, TO PROVIDE SUPERINTENDENT LEWIS WIWTH NOTICE OF INTENT TO TERMINATE HIS EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENT FOR JUST CAUSE.
MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY BY ROLL CALL VOTE. 7 AYES
Meetings Minutes April 7, 2014 http://www.k12northstar.org/sites/default/files/14-0401-minreg.pdf
GENTRY MOVED, RICE SECONDED, TO PLACE SUPERINTENDENT LEWIS ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE.
President Haas clarified Superintendent Lewis was not being placed on administrative leave for any wrongdoing. The board chose to place Superintendent Lewis on administrative leave while an investigation into management matters was conducted.
MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY BY VOICE VOTE. 5 AYES
President Haas stated this would allow an investigation free from any perception it was tainted or influenced. The board has no finding of wrong doing on anyone’s part. This was not a disciplinary action.
Additional Comments by board members:
Meeting Minutes May 13, 2014 http://www.k12northstar.org/sites/default/files/14-0513minreg.pdf
Mrs. Hull There was no joy in taking the action the board did, but felt it would have been unethical for the board to have taken any other action. While the board had indications of serious neglect and inappropriate action a month ago, the board took the time to make a proper investigation. … Although the board’s decision was difficult, it was accurately and fairly grounded in the facts of the investigation. While some of the incidents took place prior to Superintendent Lewis’s tenure, the pattern of disrespect for victims, inadequate employee discipline, and the prevention of rehire continued with his knowledge either with his failure to prevent inappropriate action by others or taking such action himself which was not in the best interest of students.
Mrs. Dominique Did not believe there was anyone who liked to fire someone from their job. She thought Superintendent Lewis was doing a great job, but the board’s number one priority was to take care of students. When the board found there were things going on in regards to the allegations, it had no other choice. If the board could have kept Superintendent Lewis, they would have.
Mrs. Lambert echoed the comments of other board members regarding the difficult times facing the district over the last month – it had been difficult for everyone. Many people had strong loyalties to Mr. Lewis and disagreed with the board’s action; there were many people who remained undecided about the boards actions; and there were many people who agreed with the boards action. Mrs. Lambert stressed the board’s decision was not made in a vacuum. … She also mentioned the investigation expanded to include other issues.
Mrs. Lambert pointed out the board consisted of seven very different people with different ideologies, life experiences, beliefs, views, and visions on where the district should go. But the decision to terminate Mr. Lewis was unanimous. It was a very difficult decision, but it was unanimous, which she thought was very telling for such a diverse group. Mrs. Lambert drew attention to the fact there was a victim in the case – a 15 year boy and his family were victims and their lives would be forever changed by what occurred and the failures that occurred.
INFORMATIVE LINKS: These are just some of the more informative or brief information links I could find. If you want to find more information, just do a search for “Pete Lewis Fairbanks’ or ‘Claude Fowlkes III Fairbanks’.
PLACED ON LEAVE
Fairbanks Superintendent Pete Lewis Placed On Leave
Fairbanks Educators Rip School Board’s Handling of Suspended Superintendent
Fairbanks School Board Fires Superintendent
Fairbanks School Board Fires Superintendent
Fairbanks School Board Moves to Fire Superintendent for ‘Total Failure’ of Leadership
HIRED IN COLVILLE
Fired Superintendent Hired in Washington
Ousted Fairbanks School Superintendent Hired in Washington (with comments from Colville school board director Sid Green)
Former Fairbanks schools chief Lewis hired in Washington State (with comments from school board directors Sid Green and Rob Sumner)