Original article no longer available
Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
BY EVIE BLAD
Posted on Saturday, June 7, 2008
The Booneville School Board fired its superintendent last month after district employees alleged he had sex with an employee and threatened employees’ jobs if they notified the School Board of the rumors, documents obtained under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act show.
The board hired William Cromwell, a retired assistant U. S. attorney in Fort Smith, to confirm rumors of the affair, according to Bobby Ashley’s personnel file, obtained from the school district’s attorney, Mitch Llewellyn.
In multiple interviews with 13 district employees, Cromwell gathered allegations that Ashley and an unidentified district employee initiated a relationship after a board tour of an elementary school.
The pair had sex in the School Board’s meeting room, in hotel rooms during school-related conferences, in each others’ offices and the school bus barn, sometimes during school hours, the investigation concluded.
Employees knew of the affair as early as January 2007, according to the investigation.
Ashley also falsified the district gas log to fuel his Jeep, and he used the district’s Ford Explorer to drive to the employee’s house in an effort to cover up the affair, according to the investigation.
Cromwell found that the two exchanged text messages related to their relationship on district owned cell phones.
Two employees reported Ashley asked them to give him prescription drugs about 25 times.
According to a September 2007 e-mail from another employee, Ashley said that he planned to end the relationship after his wife suspected the affair.
“Im more willing 2 share u than not have u at all. I don’t no what 2 do without u,” a message sent to Ashley’s phone states.
Cromwell’s report to the board showed that the relationship “was recognized on campus and disrupted school activities.” One employee said Ashley insinuated that “if she ever told the truth about the affair, her job would be at risk.” Cromwell’s report was not a recommendation to the School Board, a letter from Llewellyn said to board President Glynda McConnell. But the board later discussed the matter in executive session, then fired Ashley.
Repeated messages to McConnell weren’t returned Friday.
Ashley’s telephone number has been disconnected, and district employees declined to provide contact information for him. Several other Booneville School Board members declined to comment on the situation or did not return messages left at their listed home and work telephone numbers. Ashley’s annual salary was $ 93, 050, according to his contract. Harvie Nichols, a former Lavaca superintendent, is completing superintendent duties in Booneville until the board hires a replacement. He’s employed by the district as a consultant.
To contact this reporter: eblad@arkansasonline. com