by Max Brantley
Trouble follows Nellums, also a Little Rock School Board member, like a dark, angry cloud. (For example. Then, there's this. And others.) As I've said before, absent a plausible rebuttal, Nellums and Clark shouldn't be leading a school or a school district. Nellums' response to me on the matter was a non-response. Clark has disputed he had knowledge that a person trying to set up Williams to take a bribe was an actor and friend of Nellums.
Prosecutor Larry Jegley is correct in noting that the alleged scheme involving Board Member Tim Clark and PCSSD Principal Mike Nellums is a 'distraction' which, in my opinion, takes the focus off of our very important mission of edcuating our children. As it should, the public expects school administrators, educators, and elected officials to maintain exemplary standards of professional conduct and provide competent leadership. Accordingly, under our new administration, I continue to stress the importance of transparency and accountability, and I am hopeful that the problems of the past will take on less significance as we move toward the future.
Although Mr. Jegley found no criminal action, it remains to be seen if the alleged actions by Mr. Clark and Mr. Nellums were violations of ethical standards which would warrant further corrective action by this District and/or the various state boards. Today, PCSSD placed Mr. Nellums on administrative leave pending further investigation by the District.
What is clear is that despite this distraction, the District will continue to "turn the corner" as was recently stated by a board member of the Arkansas State Board of Education during its meeting."
Nellums will continue to receive his $103,000 salary. The superintendent will investigate and recommend a final action, a spokesman said.
UPDATE: Tim Clark has issued a prepared statement again insisting he has clean hands, but refusing to take questions, such as about the prosecutor's assertion of frequent phone contact among the people involved. Key question: Why did Clark, having admitted multiple contacts with someone seeking money to bribe a fellow school board member, NOT REPORT IT TO THE POLICE? Clark's statement is on the jump.
To all interested,
I am extremely disappointed that reports have circulated that dispute the actual events that occurred. I am innocent and will make every effort possible to clear my name.
I intend to set the record straight once and for all. Here are the facts:
I never asked Mr. Bennett or anyone else to contact Gwen Williams to make any type of bribe.
Mr. Bennett called me a number of times and that is reflected in phone records. He asked for money, and I never gave him a cent.
I never recruited Mr. Bennett to do anything much less provide him with a script.
I met with Mr. Bennett once and recorded the conversation. During that conversation, he again asked for money. I never gave him a cent. I told him to call the police numerous times. There are witnesses to these conversations that overheard my telling Mr. Bennett to contact the police.
I have never laid eyes on Mr. Tissue. I did not hire him; I did not give him money; and I did not ask him or anyone else to create a video.
I did not give money to Mr. Nellums to give to Mr. Bennett, Mr. Tissue or anyone else.
Gwen Williams originally stated the money was a gift, and $100 was in the envelope. Mr. Bennett said the envelope contained $250. I don't know what was in the envelope because again, I had nothing to do with it.
We believe individuals in Mr. Jegley's office offered Mr. Bennett immunity and it appears those people based their report entirely on this man's allegations. Mr Jegley's office did not contact me prior to releasing last week's report.
That is all I will say about this matter.
Thank you for your time and attention.