District 62 superintendent will get $127,000 to leave amid sexual harassment allegations

  • Floyd Williams

      Floyd Williams Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 11/16/2017 5:49 AM

Des Plaines Elementary District 62 school board members voted Wednesday to pay Superintendent Floyd Williams Jr. more than $127,000 in a separation agreement amid accusations he sexually harassed employees.

Williams will officially resign Dec. 13 and be on paid vacation until then. The payment includes his salary for the remainder of the school year and unused vacation days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The vote was 6-0. Board member Sharon Lynch was absent.

"The board had received several confidential complaints alleging inappropriate or offensive comments and conduct by Dr. Williams made to administrative colleagues, some of which were interpreted by them to constitute sexual harassment," the school board said in a statement. "There were no allegations made of inappropriate physical contact of a sexual nature. Dr. Williams denies that he engaged in sexual harassment."

This not the first time Williams has faced allegations of misconduct. In Kenosha, Wisconsin -- where Williams was 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.

District 62 school board members said last year they were aware of Williams' situation in Kenosha and, after a thorough vetting, were comfortable hiring him.

Some people in a crowd of community members and district employees jeered Wednesday night when board President Stephanie Duckmann announced Williams would be paid for the rest of the school year.

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"I think the president and the vice president should step down from the school board and somebody else should be appointed, or they should make a public apology," Des Plaines resident Dan Winiecki said after the meeting. "They've got to be held accountable like everybody else does for the hiring. They messed up."

In the statement, the school board said that to move forward with disciplinary action based on the allegations would require witnesses to come forward publicly with specific charges, a lengthy hearing and potential litigation.

"This agreement will permit both the board and Dr. Williams to avoid incurring substantial attorneys' fees and court costs, as well as further disruption to the school community, which would be the case if these differences were not resolved in this manner," the school board said.

Duckmann said the school board would not answer questions from reporters Wednesday, but it would respond to written inquiries after consulting with attorneys.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Des Plaines Education Association, the union representing teachers, said in statement that educators in the district did not allow the issues between the school board and superintendent to become a distraction.

"The (association) is made up of professional educators whose focus has been and will continue to be ensuring that every student in District 62 finds a safe, engaging and challenging learning environment when they come to school each day," President David Lynch said in the statement.

Under the agreement, Williams will be paid a lump sum of $111,946 for the remainder of the school year and unused vacation days, as well as $15,230 while on vacation until he resigns.

The agreement also includes a clause prohibiting the district and Williams from disparaging the other. Additionally, the district will provide prospective employers of Williams only his dates of employment, salary and a reference letter written by Duckmann.

The reference letter highlights Williams efforts to conduct a system assessment of the district, retreats he established for other administrators, a redesign of the middle school and an online registration system. It does not mention the allegations of sexual harassment, though the complaints are included in statement attached to the separation agreement.

The school board appointed Associate Superintendent Paul Hertel to be interim superintendent through the 2018-19 school year.

• Daily Herald staff writer Christopher Placek contributed to this report.

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