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Fairbanks Superintended Dispute to be Settled through Arbitration

Saturday, May, 7, 2016

It has been two years since Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board terminated Superintendent Pete Lewis for incompetence and now the dispute is headed to arbitration. Lewis was fired in May 2014 after disagreeing with the board that his lack of action was incompetence and his contract would not be honored by the board.


Lewis hired an attorney shortly after his termination and the board utilized the services of the legal department of the borough. Two years later the parties are finally beginning the arbitration process, led by a third-party neutral.


Prior to the beginning of arbitration, the school board has met in executive sessions with legal counsel from the borough. They are discussing strategy and want to provide direction to the attorney’s office. This meeting was held behind closed doors, which the board said was because it wanted to discuss private attorney-client matters and that opening the meeting to the public would harm the district financially and expose their legal strategy to Lewis’ attorney.


The dispute began as a result of the arrest of Claude Fowlkes III, a tutor at Hutchison High School. Fowlkes was charged with having sex with an underage student on campus. That case is still in the court system, but recently, Fowlkes was sentences to 35 years in prison for the rape of another former student at another school.


According to the board, Lewis ignored signs of growing behavior by Fowlkes and did not take the treat for a problem seriously, making him indirectly liable for the incident