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Principal, Assistant Won't Return To Stamford High After Teacher Sex Case

Stamford Public Schools Superintendent Winifred Hamilton during a press conference Monday where the school district announced Valentine and Nordin wouldn't be returning to Stamford High School. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Stamford High Principal Donna Valentine, 62, was granted accelerated rehabilitation last month. Photo Credit: File
Stamford High vice principal Roth Nordin, 59, has been granted accelerated rehabilitation. Photo Credit: File
People crowd the Government Center lobby to listen to officials announce Principals Donna Valentine and Roth Nordin will not be returning to Stamford High School after a scandal at the school involving a teacher and a student. Photo Credit: Frank MacEachern
Superintendent Winifred Hamilton's statement on Monday.

STAMFORD, Conn. -- Embattled Stamford High Principal Donna Valentine and assistant principal Roth Nordin will not be returning to their posts at the school, Superintendent Winifred Hamilton announced at a press conference Monday.

Reading from a statement, Hamilton was emphatic in her assertion that the two would not be returning to Stamford High School.

"The answer is NO!," as she read from a text with a capitalized no and exclamation mark added. "Under the collective bargaining agreement, as Superintendent, I have the right to involuntarily transfer administrators. It is in the best interest of the community for them not to return to Stamford High."

Valentine and Nordin were arrested in October and charged with one misdemeanor count of failing to report to the state Department of Children and Families an allegation that Stamford High School English teacher Danielle Watkins had carried on a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old male student at the school.

Valentine and Nordin were granted accelerated rehabilitation by Superior Court Judge Richard Comerford on Nov. 19. It will allow them to have no criminal record if they have no further legal problems in the next two years.

Their status will be determined after an independent investigation, Hamilton said. That investigation into the events at Stamford High will be conducted by retired Judge Robert Holzberg on behalf of the city, said Kathryn Emmett, the city's director of legal affairs and corporation counsel.

Danielle Watkins, a 32-year-old Norwalk resident, was arrested in July on charges involving a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old male student. She was also accused of giving the teen and another teenager marijuana.

Also, the school district will move to have Watkins' teaching license revoked. She is also now on unpaid leave after her Dec. 4 guilty plea to a charge of second-degree sexual assault.

Hamilton also sought to reassure the community.

"I want everyone to know what the city, the BOE and I are doing to get to the bottom of this matter," she said. "I assure that we will move as swiftly as possible."

Once the investigation is complete, "anyone who engaged in behavior that put children at risk will be dealt with accordingly," Hamilton said.

She said she was "disappointed and outraged about the situation that occurred at Stamford High School and the resulting erosion of public trust caused by the alleged allegations of Stamford High School employees."

Emmett said Holzberg's investigation will last from 60 to 75 days, and the report will be made public.

His investigation will focus on three areas: the nature and timing of concerns about the relationship between Watkins and the student; the extent to which suspicions were shared by staff, teachers, administrators and the superintendent's office; and whether any staff including the superintendent's office failed to follow required policies on mandated reporting.

Stamford Mayor David Martin along with Jackie Heftman, president of the Board of Education, also spoke at the 2 p.m. press conference in the Government Center Lobby. No questions from the press or public were taken.

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