Exit of Watertown-Mayer Elementary Principal Nick Guertin continues

Aug. 18, 2008

By Lynda Jensen

The exit of Elementary Principal Nick Guertin of Watertown-Mayer School District is expected to proceed with the school board set to appoint teacher Pat Hittle as dean of students for all or part of the pending school year.

Hittle, who is currently a well-liked physical education teacher, will help fill the void during the absence of Elementary Principal Nick Guertin.

Supt. Karsten Anderson will conduct teacher evaluations, suspend students, and complete other actions that require a principal’s license, since Hittle doesn’t have one.

Guertin is in the process of being terminated, with proceedings started Aug. 5 by the school board. He is still regarded as a school district employee until the process is complete; although currently he is suspended with pay. He has been at Watertown-Mayer for six years, and this is the first time that he has been reprimanded for anything.

The school district cited state statute 122A.40 subd. 13, which lists a wide range of possible reasons for Guertin’s suspension, ranging from immoral conduct to willful neglect of duty.

Supt. Karsten Anderson declined to pinpoint which of the various reasons listed were the driving force behind the action.

However, an article in the Star Tribune indicated that Guertin was let go because of suggestive (but not obscene) emails exchanged with a teacher in a consensual relationship, which would likely fit under a “conduct unbecoming” clause in the statute. That teacher has since taken a job elsewhere, the Tribune reported.

The emails were presented to a school board member last month, who then moved to have Guertin fired.

A request for comment was not received by Guertin’s attorney, Roger Aronson, as of presstime Friday.

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