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Morris Area School Board votes to reinstate Craig Peterson as high school principal

MORRIS – The Morris Area School Board voted unanimously to reinstate Craig Peterson as Morris Area High School principal, effective immediately, at a special meeting on Monday night.

The decision came after the board spent nearly two hours in a closed session with an attorney for the district reviewing the legal issues in the case.

Peterson has been on paid administrative leave since December 2013 when he was charged with four counts of criminal sexual conduct. The charges were dismissed in June.

During the closed session, the board also met with Peterson for about 30 minutes to hear his side of the events, said School Board Chair Kurt Gartland.

When the meeting reopened, the 11 members of the board who were present unanimously voted “to reinstate Craig Peterson to his full time duties as high school principal effective immediately. This reinstatement shall be subject to conditions spelled out in a reentry plan prepared by the board chair in conjunction with and guidance from legal counsel.”

The decision was met with applause from the nearly a dozen teachers in attendance at the meeting.

On the advice of legal counsel, the board did not take any comments from visitors before or after the closed session. Gartland said this because the meeting was about a personnel matter.

“Our decision was based on the update we received in the closed session tonight,” said Gartland.

The reentry plan, another personnel issue, will be developed and overseen by Gartland.

“Obviously this is a significant event that’s happened with an individual and with the school,” said Gartland. “We want to have a plan in place for him coming back into the school to address all the different issues.”