BISMARCK, N.D. — The superintendent of a North Dakota high school where an alleged hazing incident led to charges against five boys will resign at the end of the school year, his attorney said Tuesday.
The school board cleared Richland 44 School District Superintendent Tim Godfrey of any wrongdoing in the hazing matter, Godfrey’s attorney, Tyler Morrow, said in a statement issued to The Associated Press. However, Godfrey wants “to extricate himself from a dysfunctional environment and to pursue other professional opportunities that have arisen,” Morrow said.
Godfrey’s letter to the school board announcing his resignation effective June 30 is dated this past Saturday. The letter does not mention the alleged hazing incident, instead touting numerous school accomplishments under his three-year tenure and thanking the board for the opportunity to work at the school district.
Godfrey has been superintendent since 2015. The school board had launched an independent investigation and placed Godfrey on paid administrative leave March 1. It was scheduled to hold a closed special meeting on Wednesday to discuss his future.
Board President Lisa Amundson declined to say whether the board considered Godfrey’s pending resignation to be a satisfactory conclusion to the investigation, but she did say that Wednesday’s meeting was likely to be canceled. She declined to confirm whether the board had cleared Godfrey in the hazing matter.
Authorities in mid-February referred five boys to juvenile court following alleged misconduct in the boys’ locker room at the small southeastern school in Colfax, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Fargo. The Richland County Sheriff’s Office said an investigation had found “numerous juvenile male victims in various grades,” but no female victims or suspects.
The combined offenses included nine counts of felonious restraint and one count of terrorizing, both felonies; 13 counts of hazing and 11 counts of sexual assault, both misdemeanors.
Police in Bismarck also have been looking into an alleged incident in that city involving Colfax students. Police spokesman Sgt. Mark Buschena on Tuesday said authorities on March 5 cited a 14-year-old Richland County boy with sexual imposition related to a mid-December incident at a Bismarck hotel. However, he declined to say whether the incident was related to the Colfax school. The case is being handled in juvenile court and details aren’t being released.
The school in Colfax for seventh- through 12th-graders has about 160 students from the communities of Abercrombie, Christine, Colfax, Galchutt, and rural Walcott. The district also has an elementary school in Abercrombie.
Some parents and other residents of the school district last month began circulating petitions to try to recall three school board members, including Amundson, with additional plans to try to vote others out in a June election. Petition organizers told The Daily News of Wahpeton that the group believes the board isn’t responsive enough to the public. The organizers have until June 6 to submit the petitions for review.
Amundson declined comment on the recall.
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