Capital High School Principal Clinton Giles resigns

by Samuel Speciale, Education reporter

 

Capital High School Principal Clinton Giles, who was suspended last week after being charged with neglecting to report the alleged sexual assault of a student, has resigned.

The Kanawha County Board of Education unanimously accepted Giles’ resignation Monday during a special meeting.

Giles was not present for the hearing, but board officials say he tendered his resignation on Feb. 3. According to the resignation form Giles filed, he plans to retire.

When asked to clarify whether Giles, 64, was resigning or retiring, board attorney Jim Withrow said Giles won’t be working for Kanawha County Schools anymore.

“Retirement. Resignation. It’s all the same to us,” he said.

Giles will be replaced by retired DuPont Middle Principal Dave Miller, who will helm Capital High on an interim basis while the board finds a permanent successor. Board officials said the job opening will have to be publicly posted and that Superintendent Ron Duerring would likely keep Miller in the position through the spring.

As for how Giles’ resignation affects the charges he faces, Kanawha County Prosecuting Attorney Chuck Miller said there are no plans to halt those proceedings.

Last week, Miller charged Giles with a misdemeanor for not reporting the Jan. 26 assault of a 15-year-old female student, which violates a mandate in state code that requires all teachers and school personnel to immediately report any physical or sexual assault involving a child. Giles could face 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

While authorities say Giles was notified of the assault by a school counselor on Jan. 26, he told the Daily Mail on Jan. 27 that “no rape was reported to me.” Authorities say he took no action except to tell two assistant principals they should not report the incident to a Charleston police officer stationed at the school until surveillance footage could be reviewed the next day.

That footage revealed that a struggle between the female victim and a 17-year-old male juvenile did occur, but Giles again delayed reporting by telling his assistant to wait until he received further instruction from the school board.

The male student was later arrested and charged with second-degree sexual assault. He also was involved in another assault last year that Giles did not immediately report.

While school board member Becky Jordon said she was sad to see Giles go, she indicated she accepts his decision.

Other board members declined to comment on the proceedings, but Pete Thaw said Giles “had to go.”

“It wasn’t a safe environment,” he said. “And frankly, he should resign.”

Thaw, 83, who physically attended his first meeting since his reelection in May, said his fellow board members should have dealt out a stricter punishment when Giles was charged last week.

“I regret that we are letting him call it quits on his own terms,” Thaw said.

When asked by reporters to give an assessment of Giles’ service in Kanawha County, Thaw deferred commenting, saying his opinion is biased. When asked to elaborate, Thaw said he has had “experiences” with Giles.

Thaw went on to say that Giles was difficult to work with at times and that he always “pressed the envelope.”

“He was insubordinate, but he wasn’t insubordinate,” Thaw said. “He always had to be the smartest person in the room, but he wasn’t.”

Thaw continued describing his frustration with Giles, saying voting to make him principal at Capital was the second worst decision he has ever made, an admission Jordon didn’t take kindly to.

“I can’t listen to any more of this,” she said as she stormed out of the board room.

While respected in the education community, Giles was no stranger to controversy. He was suspended in 2013 for failing to obey a directive from the school board office and had a history of being at odds with the board over various issues at his school.

Thaw said the school board will likely have to clarify and strengthen its reporting protocols, though he doesn’t think it’s something that should have to be done.

“Most people would have reported this,” he said. “But, apparently, we have to say so.”

Giles became principal at Capital in 2002 after 12 years as the assistant principal. Before that, he was a teacher in Kanawha County schools.

When the Daily Mail contacted him Monday, Giles declined to comment.

Unless the county drops the charges, Giles will have to appear in court before Kanawha Circuit Judge Carrie Webster when a hearing date is set.

Contact writer Samuel Speciale at sam.speciale@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4886. Follow him at www.twitter.com/wvschools.

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