WATERVILLE — The lawyer representing Don Reiter expects the Waterville Senior High School principal will return to his job soon, but the school’s attorney said no timeline has been set for when or if that would happen.

Reiter has been on paid administrative since Sept. 1, but police and the school officials aren’t saying why. Reiter’s lawyer indicated Tuesday afternoon it had to do with allegations involving another individual.

An internal school investigation is being conducted and police are doing a separate investigation, said Eric Haley, superintendent of Alternative Organizational Structure 92, and Joseph Massey, chief of the Waterville Police Department.

Reiter and his attorney, Gregg Frame, met Tuesday afternoon with Haley, Assistant Superintendent Peter Thiboutot and the school district’s attorney, Melissa Hewey.

Frame said the meeting went very well and he and Reiter got to hear the allegations against him. Reiter has been principal since 2007.

“I can’t tell you what it’s for, or the relationship to Don, but I can tell you Don was able to give his perspective on his interactions with the individual and I can say, categorically, based upon what I heard of the allegations and Don’s response, I fully expect he’ll be back in school in a short time,” Frame said.

Frame said he felt great leaving the meeting, which was held in Portland at Hewey’s firm, Drummond Woodsum Attorneys at Law. He said there was nothing in Reiter’s response to the allegations that gave him any pause, and his sense is that the investigation will be final and Reiter will return to school.

“Don was able to hear these accusations and his responses were very clear and very direct,” Frame said. “I think that Don handled himself very well. He answered truthfully and clearly and there was not any point in the meeting where I had an ‘Oh, crap’ moment.”

But if Reiter is not cleared of the allegations by officials, then “we’ll prepare ourselves for what would be a long battle, because there’s no reason he shouldn’t be in school,” Frame said.

Hewey, the school’s attorney, said after the hour-long meeting Tuesday that she wasn’t allowed by state law to discuss specifics of a case involving personnel.

“I guess all I can say is this is an ongoing investigation,” Hewey said. “There’s certainly no timeline been established as to if or when he’ll be back in school. We have additional work to do before we are able to decide where we go from here.”

“In terms of the actual details of any personnel matter, if I could, I would, but the law is pretty clear — I can’t be saying anything about that,” she said.

Massey said the police department was notified last Wednesday, the day after Reiter was put on leave.

“We are continuing with our investigation and it is completely separate from any investigation that the high school is conducting,” Massey said Tuesday afternoon, adding that it’s too soon to tell how long the investigation will take.

Asked if any charges could come out of it, he said, “We’re continuing the investigation and it will produce what it will produce.”

Haley said Saturday that he and Thiboutot are conducting the internal school investigation. Haley said he told school employees Friday about Reiter’s administrative leave and that Assistant Principal Brian Laramee is acting principal.

Frame, of the Portland law firm Taylor, McCormack & Frame, said he and Reiter went into Tuesday’s meeting not knowing why Reiter was put on administrative leave and they were anxious to find out. School in the AOS 92, which includes Waterville, Winslow and Vassalboro, began Aug. 27.

Frame said he understands school employees were told not to discuss the case involving Reiter, who has been principal since 2007 and has an “unblemished record.”

“Anyone who worked with Don can speak to his credit and his work ethic,” he said.

Meanwhile, those who have worked with Reiter over several years say they do not believe he has done anything wrong.

Mark Fairman, executive director of the Waterville Inclusive Community Project, a coalition of various organizations in the area whose mission is to create safe and welcome communities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth in central Maine, said he was shocked to learn of the administrative leave.

“My first reaction was, how totally unfair it is for Don not to know what it’s all about,” Fairman said Tuesday. “He and his family are sitting there for days wondering what’s going on. I was totally shocked, I was surprised, dismayed and a little bit angry that there was this big article in the newspaper that is never going to go away. The accusation is out there. He’s been put on paid administrative leave, so just think about — where are people’s imaginations going?”

Fairman said Reiter is not the only one wondering what the issue is about — everyone is being left in the dark as to what’s going on.

“That’s just horrible and I so much feel for him and his family,” he said.

Fairman cited several examples of how Reiter’s leadership and support, as well as work behind the scenes, both locally and statewide, has made a difference in helping youth. He said that, without Reiter’s leadership and support “we wouldn’t be as far along as we are in working toward our mission statement of having safe and welcoming communities.”

He added that Reiter has created opportunities for youth to be agents of change and has written articles for the Parent Press, a high school newsletter, as well as the Maine Principals Association newsletter, about making schools and communities safe and welcoming.

“His values are so strong for youth spaces to be safe, for youth to have opportunities to create change and it’s not just that he has those values, but he really practices them and actually supports other organizations to do the same thing,” Fairman said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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