The Fayetteville School District released yesterday to the Arkansas Times and others material compiled in the investigation of former Superintendent Matthew Wendt, fired in June following a sexual harassment complaint filed in March by district employee Shae Newman. The file sheds little additional light on the School Board’s handling of the matter, a topic of some interest among school district patrons.
There’s ample detail of the affair between Wendt and Newman in text messages from Wendt’s phone and other material. But there’s no indication of School Board discussions. For example, Wendt was initially allowed to continue work while Newman was suspended, but he was suspended after news of the complaint became public. Questions remain about the extent to which others knew about Wendt’s relationship. He’s also been quoted in texts supplied earlier by Newman’s lawyer as suggesting he’d had relationships with others in the district.
Wendt has also said in a suit he filed against Newman that an initial investigation by district lawyer Chris Lawson, who was hired by Wendt, had determined there’d been no harassment. Ultimately, he was fired by a unanimous vote of the board following hiring of an outside counsel. Wendt has said the affair was consensual and that her complaint has made it impossible for him to get a job.
The text messages indicate that,