Williams resigns from school post

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BELOIT - School District of Beloit Assistant Superintendent Darrell Williams has resigned from the School District of Beloit.

As part of a resignation agreement the board has agreed to toss out a reprimand from his file and restore his title of assistant superintendent of administration, operations and equity prior to him being named co-principal of Fruzen Intermediate School.

The Beloit Daily News obtained the resignation agreement through a request under the Wisconsin Public Records law. The agreement was signed by Williams on June 25 and by Board of Education President Pam Charles on June 26.

Under the deal Williams will be paid through the end of 2019 and is eligible for district-paid health insurance during that period. The newspaper has asked for specific numbers but has not yet received those.

Williams has changed positions twice during his time in the district. After former Superintendent Tom Johnson had been absent from the district due to medical reasons, Williams was placed as temporary interim superintendent on Nov. 2, 2017. However, Williams was taken out of the position in July 2018 when the board decided to place someone else - Donald Childs - from outside of the district in the job. Williams then returned to his original position of assistant superintendent of administration, operations and equity. In April of 2019, the district reached a mutual agreement with Childs for his resignation, voted to appoint Director of Bilingual Programming Tony Bosco as interim superintendent, and voted to transfer Williams to serve as co-principal at Fruzen Intermediate School.

However, Williams never served at the post at Fruzen. In an interview with Charles in early June she said Williams had gone on an approved leave.

According to the resignation agreement, Williams will be paid his salary and health insurance benefits until Dec. 31, 2019.

The district also agreed to pay for mediation costs between Williams and the board.

As part of the agreement, the board also agreed to provide Williams with a letter of reference for his position as the assistant superintendent of administration, operations and equity that will reference his appointment as interim superintendent for time periods during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years to be signed by Charles.

The agreement also included a non-disparagement clause and states the board will remove the reprimand he received which was dated Feb. 18, 2019.

When Charles was asked if the district would keep the document to comply with open records requirements or if it would be destroyed, she issued the following statement: "The document would not be destroyed. The reprimand was removed from Dr. Williams's personnel file and placed in a sealed envelope separate from the file. This will protect the reprimand from disclosure in the event there is a future request for the contents of Dr. Williams' personnel file. However, even in a separate sealed envelope, the documents would still be a public record, and would need to be reviewed for and subject to the balancing test for potential disclosure in response to any public records request."

In an earlier open records request the Beloit Daily News had obtained documents from Williams' personnel file.

"Once an open record, always an open record," Editor Bill Barth said. "Sealed or unsealed, it's well established law that Wisconsin's public records statute supersedes any agreement entered into between the district and and a ranking employee."

The agreement will also void Williams' appointment to co-principal for Fruzen, returning him to the position of assistant superintendent of administration, operations and equity.

The agreement also contained a confidentiality clause prohibiting Williams or the board from disclosing the existence of the terms of the agreement to the public except when required to do so under Wisconsin's Public Records law.

Williams declined an interview with the Daily News but submitted a two-page document. He thanked parents, students, staff and various stakeholders and listed 18 accomplishments during his tenure. He also listed six instances of community involvement and five awards and recognitions during his time with the district.

"In our society, we have come to realize that diversity, inclusion, and equity are our greatest strengths," he wrote.

He said former superintendent Johnson and other staff members made diversity, inclusion and equity a priority. When Williams joined the district in 2015, the number of administrators of color was at a rate of 5.7% and at the start of 2019 it was nearly 50%.

Williams encouraged the community to continue to stand up to be a voice for children in the fight against injustice, locally nationally and around the world.

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