Dollarway employee fired after hearing on alleged sexual harassment


A Dollarway School District maintenance employee’s contract was terminated following a nearly two-and-a-half hour closed hearing Tuesday night before the school board.

Superintendent Dr. Bettye Dunn-Wright recommended that Lee Johnson, who worked throughout the district, be fired after he was accused of sexual harassment. Four directors – Effrem Elliott, Cathy Hunt,

Gene Stewart and Marvin Ray Walker – favored the termination, which was opposed by Directors Joe Blanks II and George Stepps. Director Robert Morehead was absent.

Dunn-Wright wouldn’t confirm or deny that the incident involving Johnson was isolated, but said Wednesday that the target of Johnson’s focus was an adult female, also employed by the district.

Several witnesses were called into the board room individually, apparently to offer testimony.

Dunn-Wright said Johnson, who requested the closed hearing, had been employed by the district “several years.” She declined additional comment.

Johnson left moments after the board vote and was unavailable for comment. Efforts to contact him Wednesday were unsuccessful.

The board’s regular monthly meeting, which had been slated to start at 7 p.m., didn’t commence until nearly 9.

Following a roughly 30-minute executive session near the end of the gathering, the board approved the hiring of former Pine Bluff High School football coach Joe Hart as interim athletic director. Hart is replacing Fuller Cherry, who recently resigned.

The panel also accepted the resignations of district bookkeeper LeVetta Bowling and Morehead Middle School nurse Tonia Ailsworth. Bowling will be stepping down effective April 13 while Ailsworth is leaving on March 30.

In other business, the board – with Stepps abstaining – voted unanimously to name the district’s new technology building the George Stepps Technology Center. Stewart recommended the designation, saying that Stepps deserves the honor for his quarter-century as a director.

Action on a draft organizational chart was tabled so that directors could further discuss the matter. Stepps questioned Dunn-Wright on the chart, and qualifications of some administrators.

A Dollarway Education Association representative asked that the district begin issuing salary checks through direct deposit.

The meeting adjourned about 10:50 p.m.