Updated: New Principal Hired at Point Elementary; Walters No Longer Employed by District
The school board voted Thursday to terminate Walters' contract. Dr. Dan Gieseler comes to Mehlville from Ballwin Elementary School in the Rockwood School District, where he was an assistant principal.
Updated at 10 a.m.
The Mehlville school board voted unanimously in a closed meeting Thursday to terminate Point Elementary School Principal Jim Walters' employment with the district.
The board hired Dr. Dan Gieseler as the principal of Point Elementary School for the 2012-2013 school year.
On March 16, Walters was issued a lewd and indecent conduct citation from a park ranger at Forest Park in St. Louis City.
The ticket said the ranger "observed subject Walters grab his genitals while talking to a man in a vehicle who later confessed to what was happening."
Walters was placed on paid administrative leave March 26 and in May, Knost said the principal would not return to Point.
Neither Board President Venki Palamand nor the superintendent could comment specifically about Walters because it is a closed session topic relating to personnel.
The process for terminating any employee's contract entails notifying the employee of charges against district policy and setting a public hearing. The employee then has a certain amount of time to respond and request the hearing. At the meeting, the board would vote to terminate or reinstate the employee.
If the employee does not respond before the allotted time, the hearing never takes place and the board takes a vote in closed session to terminate the contract.
The motion stated the reasons for termination, "were not timely contested by Dr. James Walters..."
Walters has been the principal at Point Elementary since 2007.
He was scheduled to appear in the St. Louis City Municipal Court April 24, but after two continuances, his lawyer requested a trial.
Attorney Neil Bruntrager couldn't comment on the details of the case, but said Walters denies all wrongdoing.
"I firmly believe that he'll be completely vindicated in this matter," he said.
Bruntrager has been an attorney for 31 years and specializes in cases that are in the media spotlight, notes his firm's website. He started as a city prosecutor.
Attorneys typically request trials when they plan to enter a not-guilty plea for their clients, Court Administrator Cathy Ruggeri-Rea said.
Judge James Wahl will preside over the trial, set for July 26.
In March, Knost issued a letter to parents that said the district would be conducting its own investigation and Walters would not return to Point until the district was certain of the safety of its students.
Retired Beasley Principal Jim Schibig took over at Point for the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year.
Schibig spent 15 years as the principal of Beasley Elementary School after working as a teacher and assistant principal in the district.
Knost credits Schibig, along with Point staff, with the lack of disruption for students in the progression of the school year.
"I think we handled things right and I think the communication with the community was good; the icing on the cake was the decision to have Jim Schibig fill in because we needed a sense of calm in this situation," Knost said.
Gieseler comes to Mehlville from Ballwin Elementary School in the Rockwood School District, where he was an assistant principal.
The superintendent said when he introduced Gieseler to the Point staff, he could see an immediate connection.
“The committee fell in love with (Gieseler) and we did as well and he comes highly-recommended. We’re ready, Point’s going to have a good year," Knost told Patch. "With Dan, it's not only about his expertise, his experience, his doctoral degree, with Dan, it's just about fit."
Read more about Walters:
- Jim Walters Won't Return to Point Elementary School in Mehlville
- Trial Date Set for Point Elementary Principal
- Jim Walters' Attorney: My Client is Innocent
- Jim Walters Scheduled to Appear in Court Today
- Retired Beasley Principal to Step in for Jim Walters
- Parents Defend Jim Walters After Indecent Conduct Citation
- Superintendent Releases Letter About Walters Citation
- Confusion Surrounds Point Principal's Indecent Conduct Citation