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Spencer County superintendent on paid leave following sexual harassment lawsuit

Updated: Apr. 27, 2021 at 11:45 PM EDT
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SPENCER COUNTY, Ky. (WAVE) - The superintendent of Spencer County Schools district has been placed on paid administrative leave after a lawsuit filed by a teacher stated multiple alleged sexual harassment incidents involving him created a “hostile and abusive work environment.”

Spencer County’s Board of Education Vice Chair confirmed Tuesday that Superintendent Chuck Adams was placed on paid administrative leave amid pending litigation against him and Spencer County Schools.

The lawsuit was filed in Spencer Circuit Court by Attorney Thomas Clay, who is representing the teacher in the case.

Documents filed in the suit state multiple incidents where Superintendent Adams allegedly sexually harassed the plaintiff, and where the Spencer County School Board failed to implement disciplinary action.

Adams is said to have visited the teacher’s classroom “at least 3 times a month” to watch her teach or speak to her. An assistant who had worked in the classroom prior to the teacher’s hiring said that she had not seen Adams come into the classroom before that.

The statement reads on one occasion, Adams came into the classroom to ask about the teacher’s boyfriend. When the teacher told Adams they were no longer together, Adams said he couldn’t believe it because the teacher’s “contagious smile would be enough for him.”

The teacher reported the visits to the assistant principal, who told her that Adams would do the same to another teacher next door to her classroom.

In another incident, the teacher received a text message from Adams on a personal day, asking her how she was feeling. When the teacher did not respond, Adams sent another message saying, “Now that you know this is the superintendent, you have no excuse not to respond.”

The teacher said she did not give her number to Adams, and did not give her permission for anyone else to forward her number to Adams. When going to the assistant principal again, the teacher was told to stay away from him, and allegedly told the teacher to “watch out because he is after you.”

Visits became more frequent upon the return to in-person instruction in September 2020, according to the court document, including more frequent visits by Adams to the teacher’s classroom, around once or twice a week. The teacher said the conversations were rarely about work.

Adams also frequented soccer games at the high school where the teacher coached the high school soccer team. One incident in the court documents state that Adams walked to the sideline to speak with her while she was coaching.

Several other incidents included Adams calling the teacher’s phone unwarranted. When the teacher would not respond in one instance, Adams allegedly texted, “Girl... you best be answering your phone so I can check on you.”

Another incident alleged that Adams offered the teacher an extra ticket to the boys’ away basketball game and to be his “plus one” and ride with him. At another game, Adams had walked by where she was sitting on the bleachers and stuck his hand on top of the teacher’s hand and into her box of candy, touching it all before she yanked the box away.

The day after Spring Break, documents state the teacher went back to the assistant principal to report Adams, and was allegedly told she “was too nice, and she needed to send an email asking him to stop.”

Before sending the email, the teacher said she wanted to become a member of the Kentucky Education Association for fear of retaliation against her once it was sent. In a meeting with the principal, the teacher told about the previous incidents and stated that he had already had heard various reports on what was going on, and that he wanted to hear it from the plaintiff.

The teacher filed a grievance against Adams and began seeking legal counsel.

Documents state on the following day, she later received a call from Chairman of the School Board Jamie Stevens asking how she and her family had been. When the teacher asked why Stevens had called, she said she heard about the incidents with Adams, saying “I can’t believe it because he has always been so friendly to you and your family.” The teacher stated she had talked to a lawyer and was asked not to discuss anything further.

The teacher had begun to look through her phone bills to view calls Adams had made to her cell phone, and noticed that Adams number was not in records, according to the court documents. When she called AT&T to find the discrepancy, they told her that a caller can do this when they block their number or dial *69 so that they do not show up on a phone bill.

Court filings seek judgment against Adams asking for compensatory damages, attorney fees, injunctive relief, and other damages.

WAVE 3 News reached out to Spencer County Schools for a statement on Superintendent Adams.

Assistant Superintendent Chuck Abell, who is currently leading while Adams is on paid leave, provided the following statement:

“As you can expect, I’m not able to comment on personnel or pending litigation. Our Board of Education and our schools and staff are committed to providing our students high quality education. We will continue that. Our mission and goals remain unchanged.”

Dr. Lynn Shelburne, Spencer County Board of Education Vice Chair, also provided WAVE 3 News with the following statement:

“As you might expect, we are unable to comment on either personnel issues or pending litigation. 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.

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.”

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