Olathe school district administrator accused of sexual harassment resigns

An Olathe school district administrator who last year was found to have committed sexual harassment has resigned, effective this past week, a spokeswoman said.

Three women had filed complaints accusing Rich Wilson, the district’s director of curriculum and assessment, of sexual harassment a year ago, according to documents obtained by The Star. After separate investigations, he was found to have committed sexual harassment in one of those cases, as defined by the district’s policies.

But former Superintendent John Allison recommended that Wilson be reprimanded in the other cases as well and take sensitivity training.

The women had accused the district of protecting Wilson by keeping him in his position. And with Olathe announcing about $20 million in budget cuts for next school year, several community members criticized the district for cutting lower paying jobs while maintaining the top administrator’s employment. Wilson’s job pays more than $100,000 a year.

Rich Wilson, director of curriculum and assessment at Olathe Public Schools.
Rich Wilson, director of curriculum and assessment at Olathe Public Schools.

Wilson submitted his resignation on Wednesday, and the school board approved it as part of its routine human resources report the following day, spokeswoman Becky Grubaugh said.

“Women in the district are safer today,” Tina Ellsworth, who left her job at the district last summer, tweeted. “The harasser has resigned. We did it. Together. All of us. We sent a message that sexual harassment and gender discrimination is not going to happen anymore…not on our watch. We joined forces. We demonstrated our strength. The district will be forever changed for the better because of what we did.”

The Star previously reported that Wilson touched one woman on the upper thigh, “eyeballed” others and asked another whether she wore a bikini — allegations that district officials acknowledged were true following three separate investigations.

The district offered a $200,000 settlement agreement to one of the women if she were to quit her job and sign a non-disclosure agreement, The Star reported. The woman was a district administrator who said Wilson sexually harassed her.

When she refused the offer, she was barred from district property last fall and told she could work from home when she did not let the matter drop, according to district documents. She was assigned fewer duties and told that her position was being eliminated at the end of this school year.

Several students gathered in March to protest Wilson’s employment. And hundreds signed Ellsworth’s petition demanding the district remove him.

Includes reporting by The Star’s Mike Hendricks.