FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Former Poudre School District HR director, Chuck DeWayne, who was fired last month after a series of 7NEWS investigations is now suing the school district, claiming he was terminated "at the whim" of Superintendent Sandra Smyser.
Poudre School Board Members voted unanimously last month to terminate DeWayne, effective Feb. 11, after he was placed on paid leave in December 2013.
The firing followed a series of 7NEWS investigations into an alleged conflict of interest with DeWayne's involvement with Organo Gold and the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Organo Gold is a multi-level coffee and tea direct sales business with links to Napoleon Hill.
DeWayne's lawyer, Kevin Ward, filed a complaint against the Poudre School District in Larimer County District Court on Tuesday. The six-page complaint alleges DeWayne was not terminated for cause and claims the district had a duty to compensate him through his contract date of July 31, 2014. Taxpayers paid DeWayne an annual salary of $141,820, according to school district records.
DeWayne is also seeking damages in an amount to be determined at trial. The lawsuit also claims DeWayne is entitled to contributions made to the Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) and additional PERA contributions for his status as one of Dr. Smyser's cabinet members.
The complaint alleges DeWayne has no direct relationship or involvement with Organo Gold and that his wife is the only person involved with the coffee and tea business. It also states that the school district was aware of DeWayne's involvement with Napoleon Hill and approved his travel to Ireland to complete the final certification course in the fall of 2012. The complaint also claims DeWayne was terminated "despite there being no findings of district policy violations or regulation violations."
Documents obtained by 7NEWS uncovered DeWayne's business plan, which outlined how he intended to use his position within the district to personally profit. The document titled "Definite Major Purpose" was edited and shared with multiple people during school hours using his district email account. The text explained step by step how DeWayne planned to influence student curriculum, fundraising, teacher re-licensure and training while recruiting school district staff for a money-making venture. Under step two, the document outlined a list of "Personal Requirements," including DeWayne's plans to "Form a Master Mind Alliance with people from Napoleon Hill Foundation, Leadership within Poudre School District, and Organo Gold [sic]."
The Napoleon Hill Foundation is a private foundation, set up mainly to share Hill's teachings. 7NEWS obtained the foundation's tax records, which show most of its money comes from royalties from books like Think and Grow Rich. The text includes chapter titles such as "The Mystery of Sex Transmutation" and "The Six Ghosts of Fear."
The school district purchased 45 copies of Think and Grow Rich, for high school classrooms at a total cost of $432.
According to district documents, "Mr. Chuck DeWayne recommended this book for business classes." However, the district has since removed Think and Grow Rich from classrooms, acknowledging the text was "not consistent with the current business curriculum."
Organo Gold, also known "OG," has a training facility located in Loveland. The company consists of independent distributors who buy-in, sell OG products and recruit others to do the same. OG distributors receive ranks based on their performance in the company. Levels include Sapphire, Ruby, Emerald, Diamond and Black Diamond.
A picture of both Chuck DeWayne and his wife hanging on the wall could be seen from outside the OG facility in Loveland when 7NEWS visited the facility in October 2013. The couple's photo was featured on the "Sapphire" wall. 7NEWS also found emails exchanged between DeWayne and his wife detailing their plans to further advance in rank with OG and, in time, make $63 million. In another email, sent from Chuck DeWayne's district account, "OG," is referred to as, "our business."
7NEWS also found a copy of a check that shows the school district paid DeWayne's wife more than $600 for OG coffee, hot chocolate and tea.
DeWayne's actions led the Poudre Education Association (PEA) teachers union to file two grievances against him citing a conflict of interest and violation of school district policy. The first grievance was filed last year. The school district's policy states, in part, "No employee of the Board shall engage in or have a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in any activity that conflicts or raises a reasonable question of conflict with his duties and responsibilities in the school system."
At least four district employees have come forward to the PEA and district claiming they were pressured by DeWayne or other district supervisors to buy-in to Organo Gold.
7NEWS spoke with one of the school district employees about Organo Gold. The district employee claimed she was pressured by a different administrator to buy in to Organo Gold during an off-campus pitch her supervisor invited her to.
Superintendent Smyser has declined 7NEWS' multiple requests for an on-camera interview, citing personnel laws. Through a spokeswoman, the district provided us with the following statement: "Dr. Smyser respectfully declines to comment."
The Poudre School District has 21 days to respond to the complaint filed on March 18.