Clover Park school board member accused of discrimination, bullying superintendent

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — A Clover Park School District board member faces accusations of racism, discrimination and bullying.

Those claims have prompted the district to censure Paul Wagemann for the second time this school year after being accused by the superintendent.

“The accusations that were made here are confusing to me,” Wagemann said during the district’s school board meeting Wednesday.

In a 3-2 vote, the board issued censorship, which is a formal statement of public disapproval. The move to censure Wagemann came after Superintendent Ron Banner filed a formal complaint in February.

An independent investigator said they verified several of Banner’s claims against Wagemann, including one accusation where the phrase “crack the whip” was used during a board meeting.

Another accusation includes referring to the district’s equity and diversity officers as “race pimps.”

The report also acknowledges a pattern of harassment against the superintendent. It follows Banner’s claims that Wagemann emailed him videos that denied the existence of racism.

Addressing Wagemann during the meeting, the board president, Alyssa Anderson Pearson said, “You are not sorry. You have not made any apologies for your horrific behavior, and then you act like a victim when you are held accountable.”

When Wagemann spoke to KIRO 7 on Wednesday, he didn’t deny Banner’s accusations. He called them “a smoke screen, because they [fellow board members] don’t want to do their job.”

Ahead of the vote, some people who attended the meeting chose to voice their support and weighed in on his “crack the whip” remark.

“Paul was not expressing a racially oriented remark,” argued one Lakewood resident. “He was using one that research attributes to horse and wagon names.”

When KIRO 7 spoke with Clover Park parent Taneisha Lyons following the board meeting, she said, “I want him to resign. He’s not here to represent all of us. He’s only here to represent the ones who believe the same as he does and who look like him.”

In a statement following the vote, Banner said, ‘As superintendent, I am committed to modeling for our youth the courage to lead by example and to serve as an advocate for the needs of each student. This includes speaking up in the face of injustice.’

District officials told KIRO 7 that it is rare to have a board member removed from office. Removal would take a judge’s ruling on board member malfeasance, a recall petition and a vote.

As for Wagemann, he said that he is not planning to resign; in fact, he plans to run for reelection next year when his term is up.