Shawnee Mission principal under investigation for alleged complaints, moved to new job


OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A former alternative school principal in the Shawnee Mission School District won’t be moving to Shawnee Mission West after all. He’ll get an alternative assignment.

The change of plans was announced during Monday’s school board meeting with Walt Thompson, not Paul Colwell, getting the interim associate principal assignment.

According to a Kansas City Star report, multiple current and former employees and students accused Colwell, the former Shawnee Missions Horizons High School principal, of sexual harassment, bullying and singling out students of color.

After an initial internal investigation of the allegations, the district’s response was to move Colwell to Shawnee Mission West as an associate principal this year.

But Monday, SMSD Chief Communications Director David Smith confirmed Colwell is now part of an external investigation and won’t work at West after all.

“With external investigations we are completely out of the process, so we don’t get updates. It will be what it is, and we will wait until it’s done,” Smith said.

Most of Monday night’s meeting was spent talking about remote learning in the age of COVID-19, and for now, Colwell will play a big part.

“We gave him an assignment with some work that we needed in terms of organizing our remote learning program, so he’s doing invaluable, important work for the district,” Smith said.

The human resources report on personnel changes was highlighted by the sudden departure of Doug Sumner, the associate superintendent of human relations. Sumner resigned that position Monday, a decision Smith said he made in the best interest of him and his family.

“This is his decision, so I want to be clear about that, he made the decision. As to why he did it, that’s for him to say,” Smith said.

Sumner will be officially be on leave until Dec. 31, using the time he had built up with the district.



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