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Three incidents led to resignation of Oakes principal

OAKES, N.D. — An internal investigation was started after the longtime high school principal and activities director here threatened a student with violence in front of a classroom and went to the student’s home two times without permission.

Don Warren submitted his resignation Nov. 27 during a special school board meeting that lasted less than two minutes after the district opened an internal investigation.

Earlier this week, Superintendent Josh Johnson said Warren’s resignation ended the internal investigation. Johnson would not comment further on the investigation.

Three incidents involving Warren and a student are outlined in a memo obtained by The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, written by Johnson to Warren on Nov. 27.

The first incident occurred Nov. 12, when a student reported that Warren came into his home looking for him and spoke to his father.

“In an interview with the father, it was told to me that he had asked you several times why you were in his house and the only justification you provided him was that you were looking for his son that was unexcused from school,” Johnson wrote in the memo.

A week later, the memo says, Warren again went to the student’s home after the student failed to show up for detention Nov. 19.

“After calling out for the student by name and knocking on the walls you left the residence after approximately 10 minutes of time,” the memo said.

When he left, Warren took the backpacks of two Oakes High School students, the memo said.

A third incident was reported between Nov. 4 and Nov. 19. Warren was asked by a teacher to come to the classroom to help with three unruly students, one of whom was the same student in the previous incidents, the memo said.

Warren asked the student to move across the room.

“After that student stood up, you grabbed the student’s arm and told him to ‘not disrespect you in front of the class,’” Johnson wrote.

According to the memo, both Warren and the student agreed that Warren told the student he would “drop him like a bad habit,” and said, “I’m going to rip your head off and spit down the hole.”

Johnson laid out a number of directives for Warren in the memo but did not request his immediate resignation or ask him to take a leave of absence.

Johnson directed Warren not to enter any student’s home uninvited while serving as an administrator and directed him not to “take any property into your possession that does not belong to you.”

Warren was also directed not to have any physical contact with students or use abusive language toward a student.

“If any of the above directives are violated, I will recommend your contemplated discharge from your employment at Oakes Public Schools to the Oakes Public School Board,” Johnson wrote.

Johnson could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

Warren had been high school principal at Oakes since 1990 and the school’s activities director since 2001.

His wife, Kathy Warren, started the high school volleyball team in 1991 and was named District 1 coach of the year in 2012.

A message left for Warren at his home in Oakes was not returned Wednesday night.

According to the Oakes School District website, Jason Schmitz, a social studies teacher and head girls basketball coach, is serving as the interim activities director. Dawn Osborn, a high school English and drama adviser, is serving as interim principal.

WDAY-TV contributed to this report.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and and at CBS Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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