Des Plaines Elementary District 62 confirmed Thursday at least five female employees reported inappropriate interactions with ousted Superintendent Floyd Williams Jr., with some of the allegations coming within months of his starting the job last year.
In a statement, board President Stephanie Duckmann said the school board spoke to Williams with the hope he would correct his behavior.
"There were indications that Dr. Williams addressed these concerns," Duckmann said in the statement Thursday. "Unfortunately, the board became aware of new allegations this school year and took action to review the situation."
On Wednesday, amid the new accusations of sexual harassment, the board approved a $127,000 separation agreement. That's enough to pay almost 3½ teachers at the district's base salary.
Williams is less than halfway through a three-year contract earning a $198,000 annual salary. He'll be on paid vacation until he resigns Dec. 13.
The district has also spent $23,200 in legal fees investigating the allegations, officials said Thursday.
The district said employees made no allegations of "inappropriate physical contact of a sexual nature." Williams has denied sexually harassing the employees.
Though women complained about Williams months after he joined the district, school board members continued giving him high marks, expressed support and, in October, considered giving him a pay raise.
Board addresses accusations
Board members addressed Williams on three occasions about employees' accusations of inappropriate behavior during his 15-month tenure, district officials say.
In late 2016, Williams met with board Vice President James Poskozim to talk about anonymous complaints lodged before the winter break, according to public records obtained by the Daily Herald.
"The board was concerned and coached Dr. Williams about the district's culture and advised him of the importance of maintaining appropriate professional communications and interactions with colleagues," according to a statement Thursday.
Upon learning about another allegation that surfaced during routine human resources protocols in May 2017, the board reiterated to Williams its previous directives, officials said.
The board says it enlisted the district's attorneys to investigate Williams' interactions and communications with colleagues when another accuser came forward in early October.
Williams began his absence from the district Oct. 17 and went on paid leave Oct. 31.
Board support for Williams
School board members have expressed support for Williams both after learning of misconduct charges in a previous job and even after learning about District 62 employee complaints.
Weeks after Williams started his new job in July 2016, the Daily Herald reported he faced misconduct allegations as an assistant superintendent in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Public records show he was accused of storing photos of nude women on his work computer, snapping unwanted pictures of a female co-worker and making inappropriate comments to his assistant, and directing her to perform personal tasks for him and his family. At the time, board members said they were aware of Williams' situation in Kenosha and, after a thorough vetting, were comfortable hiring him.
Their support continued after his hiring, even as District 62 employees started reporting new accusations about Williams. Every incumbent board member running in the April 2017 election -- Duckmann, Poskozim, Ronald Burton and Brian Inzerello -- maintained he was the right person to lead the district of a dozen schools educating 4,800 students.
"I continue to believe we selected the best candidate for the job of superintendent," Poskozim said in a Daily Herald candidate questionnaire published in March, months after he met with Williams about initial complaints. "The board made its decision only after a thorough investigation of his background and much discussion with him and with others familiar with the specific facts and personalities surrounding his prior employment."