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Village Schools

YS school board accepts resignation— Krier on paid leave until spring

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By Megan Bachman and Carol Simmons

Last week the Yellow Springs school board accepted the resignation of Yellow Springs High School/McKinney Middle School Principal Tim Krier, effective next spring.

At a special meeting of the school board on Thursday, Sept. 6, the board voted to accept Krier’s resignation and to accept a separation agreement with the principal, who has been on paid leave since March.

Krier’s resignation takes effect on April 22, 2019. Until then, Krier will remain on paid administrative leave and continue to collect his salary and benefits, according to the agreement. Krier, who reportedly has moved out of the district, currently receives a salary of  $108,078.93.

The board action was the culmination of six months of district and police investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct by a high school student, now 17, and rising community concern over whether administrators acted appropriately to keep students safe and whether they might be held accountable if they didn’t.

According to the district this week, an investigation has cleared Krier, Superintendent Mario Basora and the school board of any wrongdoing in the matter. That investigation has not been made public, while the News continues to press for its release.

A separate district investigation that concluded earlier this summer substantiated the allegations that the student engaged in harassment, sexual harassment, and bullying. The student in question, who is related to Krier and who no longer attends YSHS, is also facing criminal charges. 

The vote was 4–0 after Board President Aïda Merhemic recused herself “to avoid any appearance of, or even a feeling of, a conflict of interest,” she said in a later email. She declined to be more specific.

Newly appointed board member TJ Turner, sworn in earlier in the special meeting, joined board members Steve MacQueen, Steve Conn and Sylvia Ellison in voting to accept the resignation and separation agreement.

The vote followed a 35-minute executive session. No public comments were offered by board members at the meeting.

While his leave continues, Krier may be required to provide some work for the district. In an email from Superintendent Mario Basora this week, the district is currently considering “what type of work he can do for the district while working from home.” The district would not continue to pay Krier’s full salary if he finds other employment in the education field, the agreement states.

Also as part of the separation agreement, Basora will provide Krier with a letter of reference, and Krier agrees not to sue the school district for any claims arising out of his employment at the local district, which began in 2010.

On Friday, Krier released a statement in response to the board’s acceptance of his resignation the evening before. The statement, forwarded from Krier’s lawyer, Jon Paul Rion, of Rion, Rion & Rion of Dayton, states that Krier’s resignation came as a result of “recent personal circumstances.” 

“I am pleased that I was able to work out an amicable conclusion to my contract with the Board of Education, and I wish Yellow Springs Schools well on their important journey developing a world-class education for the students and families of Yellow Springs,” the statement read.

Reached later that day, Krier declined to comment further on the matter.

Krier’s most recent three-year contract with the district was set to expire in June 2019. Basora explained in an email that the April 22, 2019, resignation date was selected after the district and Krier “came to agreement on a set dollar amount.” 

“The resignation date gets us to that amount, provides health insurance until then, and leaves open the possibility of the settlement costing the district less if Dr. Krier secures another position,” Basora wrote this week.

The district will begin a formal hiring process next February to name a permanent high school principal and assistant principal for the 2019–20 school year, according to a statement from Basora, also sent on Friday. Earlier this summer, the school board approved Assistant Principal Jack Hatert as the school’s interim principal and Cameron McCoy as interim assistant principal for the 2018–19 school year. 

Krier has been away from the high/middle school since early March, and was on an unspecified medical leave through the end of the 2017–18 school year. After a letter from his medical practitioner cleared him to return to work, Krier was placed on paid administrative leave effective Aug. 1.

Krier’s extended absence coincided with a Yellow Springs Police Department investigation in March into allegations of sexual misconduct between high school students. Krier was advised by the district to stay off school grounds and away from school events during the leave.

Inquiry on staff handling 

In his statement to media and district families on Friday, Sept. 7, Superintendent Basora linked Krier’s resignation to the student sexual misconduct investigation at the school, writing that “Dr. Krier’s resignation follows an outside investigation into whether allegations of student misconduct were promptly and appropriately investigated and reported to outside authorities.”

Responding to followup questions this week, Basora said the investigation was conducted through the district’s law firm, Bricker & Eckler, which contracted with investigator Kim Wilson.

A News public records request for the investigator’s report is pending.

The investigation concerned how staff handled student sexual misconduct allegations in March, as well as an allegation to police in September 2017 in which the same student was accused of sexual misconduct in an incident with a fellow YSHS student that took place in July 2017.

The purpose of the law firm’s investigation was to determine whether staff and administrators, including Krier, acted appropriately and within the law, particularly after the first allegation, according to Basora.

Widespread community concern centered on whether the family relationship between the principal and the accused youth may have influenced Krier’s handling of the matter. Questions also arose about whether the superintendent and school board had had knowledge of the fall allegation.

According to Basora’s public statement, “The investigation determined that Dr. Krier did not violate his legal obligation to report allegations of abuse or neglect to appropriate outside authorities (local police or Children Services).”

The superintendent also wrote, “The investigation further made clear that the board of education and superintendent first learned of the alleged incidents of student sexual harassment and assault in March 2018 and took immediate and appropriate action to investigate the matter and ensure student safety.”

According to Yellow Springs Police Department Police Chief Brian Carlson this week, the only Yellow Springs school district personnel the YSPD can confirm had knowledge of the September 2017 incident were YSHS school counselor Shannon Morano, who made the initial report to police, then-Vice Principal Hatert, high school counselor Dave Smith, and Krier, who Morano had notified before contacting local police.

According to Carlson, the YSPD did not notify Basora or any school board members at the time of the September case, which he said was in line with police protocol.

“Because YSPD was made aware of the information through the school, there was nothing to report back to school officials since they were aware of the facts and circumstances of the incidents,” Carlson wrote in an email. He also pointed out the the incident took place off school grounds when school was not in session. 

Carlson added that the police went on to use “the resources of the Juvenile Prosecutors Office and Juvenile Victims Advocate Division to prosecute the case per protocol.”

Student investigation 

The staff/administration investigation was undertaken in addition to an internal inquiry by the district’s harassment compliance officer, Donna First, who investigated sexual harassment complaints against the student.

Citing federal laws about student privacy, the district declined to release First’s findings to the News.

But on June 26, Basora sent a letter to families involved in the inquiry.

“This letter is the final disposition regarding the complaint of sexual harassment against a student at Yellow Springs High School,” the communication began.

Basora wrote that First, who is student services director, “investigated the complaint, talked to many witnesses, and ultimately produced a report with recommendations.

“In the report, Ms. First concluded that the respondent did engage in harassment, sexual harassment, and bullying of multiple female students, violating board policies 5517 and 5517.01.

“After reading the report, it is my assessment and final decision that the complaints of harassment, sexual harassment, and bullying have been substantiated and that the respondent has inflicted significant harm on several current and former female students.”

Basora’s letter also reports that the district took “appropriate responsive action” against the student. 

Prosecutor: charges pending

Meanwhile, local police pursued a legal investigation into the March allegations, and the case was turned over to the Greene County Prosecutor’s Office, Juvenile Division in July.

According to the division’s Nicole Burke on Tuesday, charges “are in the process of being filed” against a male subject.

The youth, whom she declined to name or identify by age, “will be charged with one count of attempted felonious assault.”

In the fall 2017 case, also investigated by local police, the police recommended a charge of gross sexual imposition. However, the accused took a plea deal and was instead charged with disorderly conduct, according to the victim’s mother this week.

An article in next week’s News will cover community and parent responses and district plans to prevent sexual harassment and assault in the schools.

Contact: mbachman@ysnews.com, csimmons@ysnews.com

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