A West Fargo High School assistant principal has resigned after a physical altercation with a student last week resulted in an investigation that revealed a pattern of misconduct.
Dr. Kelly Peters was placed on administrative leave after grabbing the arm of a student in the library. According to a report by West Fargo High School Principal Jennifer Fremstad, video footage along with about 15 witnesses confirmed Peters attempted to stop a student leaving the library while texting, first by saying something to the student.
Peters then grabbed the student's arm and as they walked through the commons area, the student tried twice to pull away from Peters but he maintained his grip. Peters was then seen lifting the student's arm and forcing him through the door of the main office.
"The force is enough to move three office chairs several feet and nearly knock a picture off the wall," the report said.
In an investigative report, Peters told administrators that an instructor asked him to stop the student in the library, who may not have been a student. Peters said he called the school resource officer for backup and began to think the person was possibly an intruder or someone trespassing on school grounds.
"Both of which are a safety risk to our students, staff faculty and staff," Peters said in the report.
He said the young man was rude, defiant, swearing and disrespectful and would not comply with Peters' requests.
The school resource officer met Peters and the student in his office, and the student was eventually placed in handcuffs and his mother was called to the office. A witness statement also said the student was acting defiant and attempted several times to pull away from Peters and the officer.
Peters said upon entering the main office, the student lost his footing and tripped. After viewing the video, Peters said, "It looks like I am manhandling a student."
Fremstad's investigation report into the incident said while Peters has demonstrated strengths of task management and organization, his conduct and communications with students violates many district policies and she recommended his contract not be renewed in June.
Peters, who remains on paid administrative leave, submitted his resignation to the school board on March 6 and the board approved it March 9.
Human Resources Director Robin Hill said Peters has only been with the district for two years. Hill said Peters' resignation is effective June 30, the end of his contract terms. He will remain on paid leave throughout the end of the year.
According to an evaluation by Fremstad on March 6, several reports were shared with school administrators alleging Peters often used profanity and inappropriate language with students and staff. A faculty member reported Peters referring to a student with expletive names. Other reports said Peters frequently used the F-word in interactions.
"Peters has openly shared with staff that he frequently uses profanity when speaking and that they should just 'let him know if it bothers him and he will stop,'" the report said. "This has proven to be challenging for several staff members as they see Dr. Peters as a boss and they fear he may impact their employment or work satisfaction."
Another staff member wrote she does not send any of her students to see Peters in fear he will treat them poorly.
A 2018 report said Peters made vulgar remarks about women, as well as gave the teacher "the finger" every encounter she and Peters had. The following school year the teacher wrote she felt like she needed to cut off communication with Peters and find ways to not see him at school. In a December 2019 evaluation, West Fargo officials noted Peters's use of language and said he must remain aware of what is and is not acceptable.
Peters came to West Fargo in 2018 after working as an associate principal at Red River High School in Grand Forks for 11 years. On March 9, he was named an honorary member of the National Technical Honor Society.