District 62 leader wants 'benefit of the doubt' on sexual harassment allegations

Des Plaines Elementary District 62 Superintendent Floyd Williams Jr. has issued a statement strongly denying accusations he sexually harassed female employees.

In his first comment since agreeing to a separation agreement last week, Williams asked for the "benefit of the doubt" and defended his tenure at the district.

"I am devastated by these allegations, which have affected my family and put a cloud over my name, personally and professionally," he said in the statement, which he issued Friday evening.

"I did not engage in sexual harassment against anyone associated with District 62. I do recognize that my words or actions may have been misinterpreted on occasion by colleagues, and I apologize sincerely to anyone I have made uncomfortable. That was never my intent."

The school board approved a separation agreement Nov. 15 that will pay Williams more than $127,000 in exchange for his resignation next month. He will be on paid vacation until he officially resigns Dec. 13. Williams is about halfway through a three-year contract with a $198,000 annual salary.

According to the school district, the school board knew of five women who complained about Williams' conduct and inappropriate or offensive comments. Some employees reported problems within months of Williams joining the district in July 2016.

The school board addressed Williams about the accusations three times, about every five months of his 15-month tenure. The final instance occurred in October when a woman reported sexual harassment, and the district brought in attorneys to investigate.

This was not the first time Williams faced allegations of misconduct.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin - where Williams resigned as an assistant superintendent before being hired by District 62 - he was accused of having nude images of women on his work computer, taking photos of a staff member that made her feel uncomfortable, and making inappropriate comments to his assistant, as well as directing her to perform personal tasks for him and his family.

According to District 62, no employees filed formal complaints about Williams.

To be considered a formal complaint as defined by the district, an employee must present information to an administrator or the school board. If the complaints required disciplinary action, the complainants would have their names revealed to the employee - in this case, Williams - and be called as a witness to a school board hearing. Williams would have then had an opportunity to question the employee during the hearing.

In his statement, Williams described his time as superintendent as a "tenure of accomplishment." He highlighted a middle school redesign focusing on academic and emotional support for children entering high school, establishment of leadership retreats for administrators and launching online registration.

"I remain very proud of all I have achieved alongside my distinguished colleagues and on behalf of the students and families of District 62," he said.

Williams concluded the statement by again denying the sexual harassment allegations.

"I remain hopeful that the community will extend me the benefit of the doubt amidst allegations that I resolutely dispute and deny," Williams said.

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