Kent ISD asst. super on leave, accused of discrimination

Kent County
An undated photo of William Smith, an assistant superintendent within the Kent Intermediate School District put on paid administrative leave on June 19. (Courtesy)

An undated photo of William Smith, an assistant superintendent within the Kent Intermediate School District put on paid administrative leave on June 19. (Courtesy)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An assistant superintendent within the Kent Intermediate School District is off the job pending an investigation into allegations of gender discrimination.

William Smith was placed on paid administrative leave on June 19.

Kent ISD Assistant Superintendent Ron Koehler said the district has hired an outside attorney to conduct an internal investigation after two employees filed complaints against Smith.

Koehler refused to disclose the specific allegations beyond confirming that it was Title IX-related.

Smith’s attorney, Bradley K. Glazier, sent the following statement Wednesday in regards to the accusations and investigation:

“Bill Smith categorically denies the claims attributed to unknown sources within the Kent ISD.  Gender has not influenced any of the decisions he has made on behalf of the school district.  As shown in his exemplary performance evaluations, Bill has successfully worked with the men and women in the district throughout his time at the Kent ISD and during his 28 year career in public education. 

“Bill looks forward to the completion of the investigation. He plans to continue to serve the students, parents and staff of the Kent ISD.”

Title IX is the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs.

Koehler said employees filed the complaints internally, and he is not aware of any investigations by outside agencies.

Koehler also said the district has no reason to believe the accusations would require investigation by law enforcement.

24 Hour News 8 reached out to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to confirm whether it’s investigating, but we have not yet heard back.

Koehler said it’s standard protocol for Kent ISD to place an employee on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation.

Smith was hired by Kent ISD in 2011.

He was previously the superintendent of Kent City Schools.

24 Hour News 8 submitted a Freedom of Information request to obtain a record of the allegations against Smith, but Kent ISD denied that portion of the request, citing an exemption under state law.

Among other exemptions, Michigan law allows public bodies to deny requests if disclosure would “deprive a person of the right to a fair trial or impartial administrative adjudication,” or “constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The district did provide Smith’s personnel file, which included favorable evaluations.

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