Accuser In Fayetteville Superintendent Case Settles Lawsuit With School District

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — The woman who accused the Fayetteville School District superintendent of sexual harassment has reached a settlement with the district.

Shae Lynn Newman agreed on July 26 to settle any and all claims against the school district in exchange for $75,000 "for any and all purported damages, including compensatory damages for mental and emotional suffering," according to court documents. The settlement was signed off by Dr. John L. Colbert, the current superintendent, on Tuesday (Aug. 6).

The settlement is comprised of $48,666.67 payable to Newman and $26,333.33 payable to the Clark Law Form PLLC for attorney fees and costs. The settlement said Newman's attorney, Suzanne Clark, would receive the payment within 14 days of the settlement.

The school district did not admit to any wrongdoing in the settlement.

"In fact, FSD specifically disclaims any liability to and wrongdoing or discrimination against Newman or any other persons," the settlement states.

The settlement also states that it won't keep Newman from making a claim against Wendt, nor will it keep her from defending herself against any lawsuits against her by Wendt.

The school district released a statement regarding the settlement.

"In keeping with our commitment to provide you information that may be the subject of attention in the local media, Fayetteville Public Schools can confirm that its insurance carrier has negotiated and agreed to a settlement of all employment-related claims of a current employee that have been the focus of recent media reports. The settlement agreement is funded solely by the insurance carrier. The settlement agreement does not require the expenditure of any funds of Fayetteville Public Schools."

Newman accused Wendt in March 2018 of sexual harassment. Then, in April 2018, Newman's lawyer, Suzanne Clark, released a letter from Newman accusing Wendt of making unwanted sexual advances and threats toward her.

Clark also released several text messages that appeared to show Wendt threatening Newman’s job and stalking her.

Wendt was fired on June 18, 2018, for breach of contract for derogatory comments against a fellow employee violating district policy, according to Susan Kendall, attorney for the School Board.

Text messages between the two, obtained through the state Freedom of Information Act, show Wendt allegedly sent Newman several sexually explicit messages after the two had an affair.

Coleman described their relationship as a consensual affair that was rekindled by Newman.

Wendt later accused Newman of using “the media in lieu of the proper forum to resolve issues” and launching a “public relations piece disguised as a legal pleading,” according to court documents.

A judge dismissed Wendt's lawsuit against Newman last fall. Wendt was seeking $850,000 in damages from Newman. Wendt's attorney has said they will appeal the dismissal.

Wendt also sued the Fayetteville School District, claiming he was wrongfully terminated. A Washington County circuit judge dismissed that lawsuit in March.

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