Capital High principal retires

by Ryan Quinn, Staff writer

CHRIS DORST | Gazette
Kanawha County school board member Becky Jordon (left) moves that the school board accept Capital High School Principal Clinton H. Giles’ retirement as board President Robin Rector listens during a special meeting Monday.
CHRIS DORST | Gazette Kanawha County school board member Pete Thaw criticized Giles in remarks to reporters following Monday’s meeting, where the board accepted Giles’ retirement.
CHRIS DORST | Gazette Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring talks on the phone following Monday’s meeting.
Clinton Giles

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Capital High School Principal Clinton H. Giles has retired, after being charged last week with failing to immediately report an alleged sexual assault at his school.

Giles — who led Capital, Kanawha County’s largest school in the last school year, for 13 years — had been suspended without pay pending the outcome of the misdemeanor charge against him concerning his handling of the situation.

Following a roughly 30-minute closed session at a special meeting Monday, the Kanawha County school board voted 5-0 to accept Giles’ resignation. Superintendent Ron Duerring said Giles submitted a notice last week, without explanation, stating he was retiring Feb. 3 — the same day Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Charles Miller charged him with the misdemeanor.

Duerring said Giles didn’t personally give him any further explanation, and he declined to say what he thought of Giles’ tenure as principal. Giles didn’t return calls from the Gazette on Monday.

The day after he was charged and submitted his retirement letter, Giles told the Gazette he’s “eager for all the facts to be revealed” in the case. He has a hearing set for next week before Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster.

Giles was Kanawha’s highest-paid and longest-serving principal. He made about $92,600 a year until Dec. 1, when the local school board approved significant pay increases for him and all other middle school and high school principals and assistant principals.

He had spent 11 years with the county as a teacher and 26 as an administrator.

On the morning of Jan. 26, a 15-year-old student at Capital High was allegedly raped by a 17-year-old male student under a stairwell in the school. She reported the sexual assault to a counselor that afternoon.

The counselor told Giles the same afternoon, but Giles didn’t report the incident to police until the next day, Miller said. As a result, the victim was not given a sexual assault forensic exam until the day after the alleged assault.

School board members didn’t discuss the issue in the open portion of the meeting and quickly adjourned after their vote.

Board President Robin Rector wouldn’t comment about Giles after the meeting. “I just think it’s a sad day in Kanawha County,” fellow board member Becky Jordon said.

Board member Pete Thaw, however, spoke to a group of reporters after the vote, criticizing Giles and calling him “insubordinate.” Jordon said she couldn’t listen to what Thaw was saying anymore and left the room.

“He ought to resign because, frankly, you cannot have an environment where the children are not safe,” Thaw said. “… When you have rape, I would think that you would run to the phone and report it.”

Thaw — who had not personally attended a school board meeting for months, citing severe arthritis — said that had Giles not resigned, he would have gone through “another procedure” to remove him.

“I do regret that we’re letting him call the tune on when he quits,” he said.

However, Thaw cautioned that he couldn’t give an “unbiased opinion” of Giles because of past issues with him “pushing the envelope,” though he didn’t specify what these issues were. He said voting to hire him 13 years ago was the “second-worst mistake I ever made.” When asked for the worst mistake, Thaw said “she’s still active in the system” and declined to name her.

Board members unanimously agreed to enter Monday’s closed session after Rector made a motion to discuss “any matters — which may involve personnel, student discipline and other matters — which, if disclosed, may constitute an unwarranted invasion of an individual’s privacy.”

Board attorney Jim Withrow said the discussion was private partly because it involved information about the status of students involved in the allegations. He said the discussion involved everything from the alleged rape to now. He declined to give specifics.

David Miller, the retired principal of DuPont Middle School, has been filling in for Giles since his suspension and will continue to lead the school for now. Duerring said the principal position will be posted for applicants and could take a couple of months to fill.

“We want to take our time,” he said.

Charles Miller said Monday that Giles’ retirement was a surprise that left him “a little shocked.” The prosecutor said he doesn’t know what effect, if any, it will have on Giles’ prosecution, which was partly meant to send a message to school officials.

“The primary objective I had in charging Mr. Giles was pointing out that sexual assault is a serious thing and it must be reported it immediately,” he said.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazette.com, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.