TCAPS Board Clears Soma In Second Investigation
By Beth Milligan | June 12, 2018
Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) board members cleared Superintendent Paul Soma of any potential violations of state or federal law Monday – though the investigative report upon which they based their decision will not be released publicly until later this week.
The board hired Rehmann Corporate Investigative Services in March to investigate complaints against Soma by district principals and assistant principals that included allegations he bullied and intimidated female principals. Such behavior could constitute a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees based on gender, among other factors. After conducting an independent investigation of employee claims the last three months, Rehmann delivered its findings in a confidential report to the district last week.
On Monday, board members went into closed session to review the report and a legal analysis by the district’s counsel on its findings. After coming out of closed session, board members unanimously voted to pass a resolution that stated in part:
“The board acknowledges receipt of the report as of June 4, 2018, and hereby adopts its findings and conclusions. The board hereby concludes via a preponderance of the evidence that the TCAA (Traverse City Administrators Association) complaints and the information presented in support of them do not meet the applicable standards for establishing discrimination, unlawful harassment, or retaliation against the current superintendent or the current members of the executive team.
The board hereby authorizes and directs the district to release the report, which includes the findings of the investigation, to the complainants and the respondents by end of business on June 13, 2018. The board hereby authorizes and directs the district to make the report available to former employees and respondents identified in the report for their review. Beginning at noon on June 15, 2018, the board authorizes the district to release the report to members of the public who submit a proper FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.”
As part of the resolution, TCAPS board members reaffirmed Soma’s “authority in the current organizational structure” of the district. The vote marked the second time in the last year the board has upheld Soma’s innocence - and authority as superintendent - following an independent investigation into alleged harassment and intimidation of employees. In January, a report completed by David Revore of legal firm Bauckham, Sparks, Thall, Seeber & Kaufman P.C. also cleared Soma and his executive team of any wrongdoing in a different case involving three administrative complaints alleging harassment.