Principal investigated for alleged improper behavior
A top administrator at a public charter school affiliated with the St. Helens School District is in hot water after at least two teachers reportedly accused him of sexual harassment earlier this year.
Michael Arthur, principal of Yankton-St. Helens Arthur Academy, was placed on leave in March, according to the St. Helens School District. Arthur is no longer listed on Arthur Academy's staff page, which is administered separately from the St. Helens School District's website.
Under the terms of the agreement between Arthur Academy and the St. Helens School District, the charter school is essentially self-governing, and the St. Helens school board and administration don't have direct oversight of staff or hiring at the charter school, said St. Helens Superintendent Scot Stockwell.
"The safety concerns and allegations being brought to the attention of the school district are being shared with law enforcement," Stockwell told the Spotlight in an email. "We are closely monitoring the situation and will take further action as appropriate."
Arthur Academy did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Parents leveled the accusations against Michael Arthur in a series of Facebook posts that were also shared with the Spotlight.
One post came from a person who described themselves as both a former parent and a teacher at the school, who described "harassment and predatory behavior" on the part of Arthur.
"Mr. Arthur's absence started because I filed a sexual harassment complaint against him, which in turn another teacher followed with her own experience of harassment and predatory behavior, as well," the post read.
The teacher continued, "That isn't my main concern now however, my main concern is the children that I care for so much, and why I pulled my own children."
Responding to the allegations, Stephani Walker, executive director at Yankton, wrote on Facebook, "Please understand that, in fairness to all parties involved, Arthur Academy does not comment on the status of complaints or allegations regarding employees or students."
Walker continued, "We can assure you, however, that Arthur Academy takes complaints very seriously, and is committed to fully investigating all complaints. Arthur Academy has a zero tolerance policy regarding any form of harassment, and will not tolerate violations of this policy."
One parent who contacted the Spotlight said parents had been wondering about Arthur's absent and had received "very unsatisfactory responses" when they wrote to leadership at Arthur Academy and the school district.
"Up until a just a few days ago," the parent told the Spotlight, "no one was aware of the accusations against him or that that there have been incidents in the past where he was accused of inappropriate behavior with female students."
The charter school serves students from kindergarten through fifth grade.
The Spotlight reached out to both the Columbia County Sheriff's Office and the St. Helens Police Department.
A Sheriff's Office spokesperson confirmed the agency had been contacted regarding the situation at Arthur Academy but had passed the matter along to the St. Helens Police Department.
A city spokesperson declined to confirm or deny whether there is an active criminal investigation into Arthur.
"The St. Helens Police Department does not confirm information regarding potentially active criminal investigations in which charges have not been filed," wrote Crystal King in an email. "An exception to this policy is if we determine that there is a current danger to the community."
Arthur has not been charged in connection with the allegations, nor does his name appear on a list of Oregon educators sanctioned by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.
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