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School Board Terminates School Superintendent's Contract for Incompetence

Fairbanks, AK - During special meeting Monday night the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board presented Superintendent Pete Lewis with a notice of intent to terminate his contract.  Lewis has been on leave for more than a month following allegations that tutor, Claude Fowlkes III, sexually abused a minor at Hutchison High School.  Fowlkes was arrested on six counts of abuse of a minor in March.

In a letter to Lewis, the School Board told the Superintendent he “failed to perform his duty to manage employee investigations, and evaluations and he failed to discipline an employee accused of serious inappropriate conduct with students.

The letter adds that significant allegations and observations of alarming behavior on the part of Fowlkes were either not understood or not dealt with in a serious manner by the superintendent.
The Board appointed Karen Gaborik as the interim Superintendent when they placed Lewis on leave April seventh. School Board President Heidi Haas says Gaborik will remain in that postion. “She’s agreed to continue in that position until we move forward with naming a new Superintendent," says Haas. "So, we have leadership in place and we’re confident int eh leadership we have in place.”

Haas says the process to find a new Superintendent will be long, but the Board hasn’t yet discussed it. “The board hasn’t had any discussions around finding a new superintendent at this point. We need to get through the process we’re in right now, before we look at our next steps.”

Superintendent Lewis can request a hearing within five business days before the Board finalizes their decision to terminate his contract. Lewis has been suspended with pay pending the outcome of the hearing.  He may also choose to waive his right to a hearing. He did not return calls for comment.
The family of the boy who was alleged abused at Hutchison High School has filed a claim against the school district of failing to take action.