The fight between James Island Charter High and its Principal Bob Bohnstengel escalated on Monday with the school accusing Bohnstengel of violating South Carolina ethics laws.
Bohnstengel and the school became embroiled in a legal battle after the school's board put Bohnstengel on paid administrative leave in November.
Bohnstengel filed a lawsuit against the school alleging defamation and intentional breach of his contract. The school's board responded on Monday by denying Bohnstengel's assertions and alleging that he had been working for a company that the school hired to train its teachers and administrators in classroom management techniques.
Bohnstengel recommended and the school's board approved paying The Education Company for services; the school appears to have paid the company more than $25,000 during the past two years.
The school's board says Bohnstengel failed to disclose that he was part of the company's staff. When the board asked the company about it, the company removed Bohnstengel's name from its staff listing online, and the school says that happened on the same day Bohnstengel was placed on an administrative leave, according to court documents.
Bohnstengel's failure to disclose his affiliation with the company, and his recommending of contracts for the company with the intention of gaining future compensation are both inconsistent with state ethics laws, according to the school's filing.
Bohnstengel submitted a separate affidavit explaining his relationship with the company and denying ever receiving any monetary compensation or being on its staff. Because he attended its trainings and was considered an approved trainer, his name was listed on its website, according to the affidavit. That was what gave the school access to the company's training materials.
"(James Island Charter High School) Board's repeated attempts to drag my name through the mud, tarnish my reputation based on false and trumped up charges, and keep me on forced leave, have caused me and my family significant embarrassment and distress," Bohnstengel said in his affidavit.
Bohnstengel also said that the board majority told him Nov. 18 that he would not be offered a contract for the 2014-15 school year, and that he either could announce his retirement or the board would do so for him. That night, Bohnstengel said he announced he would retire in June 2014.
Bohnstengel's attorney, Nancy Bloodgood, has said the school's newly elected board didn't like him and wants more say in running the school, particularly in picking the new football coach.
The school's attorney, Caroline Cleveland, has said the decision on the new coach was one of many issues, and the board wants to ensure a smooth transition to next year.
The charter school's board is slated to meet Tuesday.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 843-937-5546.
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