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Reassigned Haskell president won’t return to job

March 6, 2019

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The president of Haskell Indian Nations University who was reassigned shortly after a scathing federal report won’t be returning to the job.

Venida Chenault, who served for five years as the leader of the federally operated tribal college in Lawrence, will work in the Office of Research, Policy and Post-Secondary Education with the Bureau of Indian Education, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. She will remain in Lawrence and have an office on the Haskell campus, said Nedra Darling, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Chenault was placed on special assignment in November after a report by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Interior. Darling said Chenault’s stepping down had nothing to do with the investigation, which found that administrators at the university had underreported crime statistics for a two-year period and failed to follow internal policy when handling misconduct complaints.

Other issues dealt with the handling of sexual assault allegations. The federal report said Chenault “admitted she treated an allegation of sexual assault differently because the victim was male” and confirmed Haskell mishandled allegations about an instructor sexually assaulting a student, and in the process “likely re-victimized the student.”

Daniel Wildcat , who has been serving as acting president since November, said in a campus-wide letter that “the BIE had completed its internal review of Haskell and was addressing all substantiated allegations through corrective action.” The letter, which made no mention of Chenault, said the internal review also had “identified several areas for improvement.”

Wildcat did not respond to requests for further information Wednesday. Darling said efforts are underway to find a permanent leader for the Lawrence school, which enrolls about 1,000 students representing about 140 tribal nations and native communities.

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