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Anchorage prosecutors will not pursue harassment charge against former school district executive

Municipal prosecutors said they will not pursue a criminal misdemeanor charge against the Anchorage School District’s former chief of human resources.

Anchorage School District employee Todd Hess at the district headquarters on May 12, 2017. (Marc Lester / ADN archive)

Chief Assistant Municipal Prosecutor Jody Davis said in an email Monday that there isn’t sufficient evidence to charge Todd Hess under municipal code. She said she couldn’t release further details.

Hess, 66, was a high-level school district employee with an annual base salary of $147,000. His abrupt departure in early April triggered questions and rumors. News in May that police had investigated an incident involving Hess was widely publicized in local news outlets.

Hess said by phone Tuesday that “reasonable people” had reviewed allegations against him and determined the claims had no substance. “It’s interesting what can happen when certain individuals allege things,” he said.

In May, Anchorage police confirmed they had investigated an incident involving Hess. Police said a district employee reported she was talking with other employees after an Anchorage School Board work session at district headquarters on March 18 when Hess “walked up to her, ‘aggressively grabbed her elbow,’ and asked the employee why she was there.” The employee wasn’t injured, police said.

Police issued a citation to Hess for harassment on April 4, though prosecutors said this week they won’t pursue the charge in court, closing the case. Harassment is a misdemeanor under municipal code.

Hess’ last day of work at the district was April 4, and he’s still getting paid while on leave, said district spokeswoman Morgan DuClos. He’s set to retire June 28.

The school district has refused to say what prompted Hess to leave, including whether the district ordered him out. DuClos said the district does not discuss personnel matters.

Hess said, “The school district follows protocols whenever police get involved in a situation.” He declined to say whether district officials asked him to leave, referring questions to the district.

Matt Teaford was named the district’s new HR chief.

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