WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. — A lawsuit filed against the West Memphis School District and Board of Education claims they violated the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) during their search for the new superintendent.

Forth Smith attorneys Joey McCutchen and Stephen Napurano said they filed the lawsuit after the school district and board allegedly violated FOIA by not notifying the public and media about interviews that were conducted during the superintendent search.

Former West Memphis School District Superintendent Richard Atwell was terminated by the school board in April.

According to the lawsuit, the board voted to terminate Atwell and approved a $350,000 severance package after they returned from an executive session that was called to discuss a “personal matter.”

When WREG asked about Atwell’s termination at the time, Joann Faulkner, the school board president, said, “I don’t have a comment about the dismissal and the reasons behind it.”

In May, the board announced that Dr. Terrence Brown was selected as the new superintendent after the interviews were conducted.

The lawsuit states a FOIA request was submitted seeking all documentation related to the interviews, and an email chain allegedly showed the board secretly interviewed four candidates for the superintendent position.

“There appears to be complete lack of transparency by several board members beginning with the termination of Dr. Richard Atwill, the payment of $350,000 of taxpayer money, and concluding with the secret hiring of the new replacement Superintendent Terrence Brown,” said McCutchen.