by Max Brantley
Background: Nellums took retirement in June after 26 years in the teaching profession just a few steps ahead of completion of a Pulaski County School District investigation into his involvement in a plot to discredit a County School Board member. The plot, involving a videotape of a bogus bribery sting, was a Keystone Kops affair that produced a scathing report by Pulaski Prosecutor Larry Jegley, but no criminal charges. Nellums and others were sued by the then-School Board member, Gwen Williams, for defamation. He has denied allegations in the suit.
By retiring, Nellums prevented disclosure of anything the district investigation might have turned up about his activities in the alleged plot or anything else untoward in the school district. His personnel file only could have been disclosed had he been fired or suspended. Nellums has objected previously to my characterizations of the matter and has said he has other views on the sting, Gwen Williams and more, but so far has not shared those thoughts publicly. He remains on the Little Rock School Board.
Today's belated news: Nellums is back at work. He's being paid $41,800 to teach business education at the state Division of Youth Services' Arkansas Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center near Alexander, which houses youthful offenders, including some of the most violent. He was hired by the private company running the facility, G4S. I asked state Human Services spokesman about Nellums' hire and knowledge of his past. Amy Webb's response:
Mr. Nellums is in a limited role as the Business Education teacher at the center's school. He is not in a management or supervisory role. G4S is accountable for ensuring that he thrives as a classroom teacher. If he doesn't, we expect G4S to take appropriate action. So far, the principal at the school has described him as very professional and an enthusiastic and motivated teacher.
Mr. Nellums, who has 26 years experience in education, was hired Aug. 29. Before he was hired, he passed a criminal background check as well as checks of the adult and child maltreatment registry.