Lawsuit claims sexual discrimination against Pine Bluff High School principal

Local News

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A Pine Bluff high school principal is being sued for sexual discrimination by a former employee.

The lawsuit is against Dr. Michael Nellums, and also names the school district and superintendent Dr. Jeremy Owoh.

In the lawsuit, the woman says she was sexually harassed by Nellums for years and ultimately fired for not accepting his advances.

Nellums says all of the claims in the lawsuit are false and his lawyer will be fighting to get it thrown out.

According to the suit, the abuse started in 2015 with Nellums making inappropriate comments and coming into the woman’s office to, “expose himself to her.” The lawsuit goes on to say the woman reported that to the superintendent at the time, who is no longer in that position, and was told, “the district couldn’t afford a scandal.”

The lawsuit alleges the abuse ended last year when Nellums accused the woman of changing her daughter’s grades and said she could, “come to his house and they could work it out.” In the lawsuit, the woman says she did not accept Nellums’ advances so she was fired.

In an e-mail to us, Nellums wrote:

The lawsuit in this instance is by an employee who was fired based upon me reporting her conduct to the Pine Bluff School District administration. In her role as an employee, she had access to the Arkansas State Department of Education’s  grade reporting network. It is called APSCN. Using that network she violated her public trust and purposely changed her daughters failing grade to a passing grade. This behavior was reported to me by our Registrar and is both unethical and illegal. I had an ethical duty to report the employees behavior and I did do. As a result I fulfilled my professional responsibilities by reporting it to the district’s administration. 
[Woman] only claimed harassment “after” I reported this illegal; conduct. Fortunately, I have text messages from [Woman] that support my non-harassment and her numerous and persistent  attempts to “reach out to me, and get to know me.” Other current  and former district employees are also aware of her general behaviors and her  “aggressive attempts” to get to know me. I will be more than happy to share the names of those individuals with you as well. My attorney I look forward to complete vindication. 

Unfortunately false allegations are not new to many of the fired or terminated employees in this district. Please be aware that I have been exonerated before by the district and the Arkansas Department of Education and am currently pursuing legal action against those false accusers. I have contacted my attorneys and will also be preparing a civil suit against [Woman] in this matter.   

Dr. Michael Nellums

School records show this is the third time there’s been a complaint against Nellums.

Four years ago another woman tried to sue Nellums claiming sexual harassment and wrongful termination. She settled with the school district for $50,000 and her job back. Nellums has since filed a countersuit for defamation.

Then, in 2018, a former Pine Bluff high school principal filed a lawsuit saying the district fired him without cause. That lawsuit claims Nellums went to the Arkansas Department of Education and falsely accused him of changing grades. He also settled with the district for $80,000.

Before all of this, Nellums used to work for the Pulaski County Special School District, but resigned over a scandal where he was accused of trying to defame a school board member. Prosecutors found no criminal wrongdoing in that case.

Nellums was in school working Wednesday.

We reached out to the Pine Bluff School District and Superintendent, both are named in the lawsuit and said they can’t comment since the case is ongoing.

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