‘Sexual misconduct’ involved in Southeast employees’ removal

Photo by Jon Ridinger

The former Southeast High School principal and an academic adviser are no longer employed by the district after a district investigation found evidence of alleged “sexual misconduct” that did not involve students.

The Southeast Local Schools Board of Education approved district Superintendent Robert Dunn’s recommendation to accept the resignations of former Principal Josh Herndon and Data Coach Amber Vankirk, both dated Dec. 12, on Dec. 19.

After assigning the pair to work from their homes with pay and benefits on Nov. 30, Dunn summoned Herndon and Vankirk to Dec. 8 pre-disciplinary hearings “to address your alleged sexual misconduct with another board employee that occurred at the high school on Nov. 30, 2022,” according to records obtained by The Portager.

The Dec. 8 hearings came on the heels of Dec. 2 meetings and interviews, which Dunn stated were not pre-disciplinary hearings.

“Discipline, up to and including termination, however, may ultimately be considered, in which case a separate pre-disciplinary hearing will be scheduled,” Dunn informed them in letters dated Dec. 1.

Dunn’s letters did not specify that the alleged sexual misconduct was between Vankirk and Herndon, but the letters were identical, and the dates were the same.

Reached by cell phone, Herndon declined comment. Vankirk did not respond to a message left on her cell phone or to a request for comment sent to her home email.

Steve Sigworth, a 1984 graduate of Southeast High School who has been serving as the district’s middle and high school assistant principal, was tapped to replace Herndon.

The district will name a new assistant after the holiday break, Dunn said.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.