WATERVILLE — The Waterville Board of Education voted 6-1 Monday night to dismiss Waterville Senior High School Principal Don Reiter, who is accused of asking a student for sex Aug. 27.

Board member Susan Reisert was the lone opponent in the vote to dismiss, which was taken by a show of hands just before 6:55 p.m. following just over an hour of board discussion in executive session. When Reisert raised her hand in opposition to the motion to dismiss the principal, she received a smattering of applause from the audience. The board then immediately voted to adjourn.

Chairman Sara Sylvester made the motion to dismiss Reiter based on the board’s findings in the case. She and board members Elizabeth Bickford, Tiffany LaLiberty, Pamela Trinward, Joan Phillips-Sandy and Maryanne Bernier voted to dismiss.

Reiter’s attorney, Gregg Frame, said after the hearing that he and Reiter want to hear what the allegations are from New Hampshire. Frame said he hoped the board did not consider those new New Hampshire allegations in its decision, because even alluding to those allegations had “tainted the process a bit” and the board could not “unhear” the new accusations.

Reiter has 30 days to appeal the board’s decision, Frame said.

“I’ll sit down with my client, and we’ll consider that,” Frame said.

Upon hearing the board’s decision, Reiter, who earns about $102,000 a year as principal and has been on paid administrative leave, showed no emotion.

More than 100 teachers, principals, students, parents and others, including Mayor Nick Isgro, City Manager Michael Roy and local lawyers, attended Monday’s hearing at the George J. Mitchell School.

At the start of the hearing Monday, Melissa Hewey, attorney for the school district, suggested the board had the option of reopening the evidence portion of the case in light of new allegations unearthed by Waterville police that Reiter had inappropriate relationships with two former students in New Hampshire where he taught several years ago and was an assistant principal. The board Monday was in the deliberation stage and had already considered the evidence in the case.

While the new allegations seemed relevant to the Waterville case, Hewey said, she added that “we feel strongly you have sufficient information before you to make the decision” based on testimony at last week’s hearings.

Frame strongly urged the board to reconsider evidence in light of the new allegations, which were “totally new to us.”

“If there’s new information, it needs to be brought forward,” Frame said. “We need to know what that new information is — transparency — and Don Reiter, as a matter of due process, needs to have the opportunity to respond to that new information.”

At 5:30 p.m. Monday, the school board voted 7-0 not to reopen the evidence in the hearing and went into executive session to consider whether to fire Reiter or return him to the job.

Bryan Dench, the board’s attorney and official hearing officer for Reiter’s dismissal hearing, said at 4 p.m. Monday, as he was driving to the hearing, that he was not aware that two former students of Reiter from New Hampshire told Waterville police within the last few days that they had inappropriate relationships with him when he taught at Mascenic Regional High School in New Ipswich, New Hampshire.

One of those former New Hampshire students told Detective Sgt. Bill Bonney that she had sex with Reiter just before or after she graduated, according to Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey. Dench said he was aware that allegations were coming out of New Hampshire, but he had not heard about specific Waterville police findings, which Massey announced Monday afternoon.

At the hearing, Frame said the school board needed the chance to look at all the evidence and then make a decision, and the evidence should be reopened. He said the board had read the newspaper reports referencing the new allegations.

“We can’t be engaging in a whisper campaign here,” Frame said.

Frame had said the first night of the hearing that the case was very personal for him as he graduated from Waterville High and has relatives who are students there. His parents, siblings and extended family were present for the hearing, including his brother, Doug, who is assistant principal at Waterville Junior High School.

Waterville police reopened their investigation after two former students of Reiter in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, where he worked from the late 1990s to the early 2000s, allege they had inappropriate relationships with him.

Bonney went to New Ipswich Friday and interviewed the two students, as well as the mother of the student who did not say she had sex with him, but that she did have an inappropriate relationship.

The mother confirmed the relationship based on 147 pages of letters Reiter allegedly sent to her daughter when she was a student, Massey said in his press release.

Sitting in the audience Monday night was high school sophomore Christina Smedberg, 15. She said that after hearing about the New Hampshire allegations, she is inclined to believe the allegations against Reiter in Waterville are true.

“To be honest, after what I heard today, I find him guilty,” Smedberg said. “Now kids from New Hampshire are stepping up and coming forward with this, and from what I hear, one student had 147 pages from him and another has said that she had a sexual relationship with him.”

Sophomore Hollie Madore, 15, and her brother, senior Ryan Madore, 17, also were in the audience.

“I thought he was innocent at first. Now I’m on the borderline whether he is innocent,” Hollie Madore said.

Her brother said he never thought such a thing would occur in Waterville.

“I’d like to see him stay, but if this is all true, then I think he should be terminated,” he said.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17.


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