LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC Feb 27 2018
A former Airport High School assistant principal admitted having an inappropriate relationship with a student, apologized to his mother for the relationship but also said she was in love with him, according to documents released Monday morning from the Cayce-West Columbia school district.
Dawn Diimmler, 44, faces two charges of sexual battery with a student – one each with the Columbia Police Department and the Cayce Department of Public Safety – on allegations that she engaged in a relationship with an Airport High School student who was 19 at the time while she was the school’s assistant principal. She faces up to five years in prison on each of the felony charges, if convicted.
The State on Feb. 14 requested a copy of Diimmler’s personnel file from Lexington School District Two under the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The district provided certain documents from the file on Monday.
In a Jan. 25 letter telling Diimmler she was on administrative leave, superintendent William James Jr. told the now-former assistant principal that the district was investigating “the nature of your interactions with several current and former students” at Airport High School. He instructed Diimmler not to contact former or current Airport High students or their parents, and also told her not to talk with any Airport High staff members to discuss the matter.
In a second letter on Jan. 31 that informed Diimmler of the board’s recommendation to terminate her, James wrote that he had received additional information about Diimmler’s alleged conduct, including recordings of voicemail messages she left on the phone belonging to the student’s mother the night of Jan. 29 after the superintendent’s instruction not to contact students or their families.
“I have listened to those recordings, in which you admit to (the student’s) mother that you are in love with her son, and in which you apologize to (her) for your inappropriate relationship with him,” the letter states.
During a Monday hearing in Lexington County bond court, Diimmler’s attorney said she is married with three children, ages 7, 9 and 11.
School district officials reviewed information from Diimmler’s district-issued cellphone and district email, which corroborated her admission to an inappropriate relationship, according to the documents. James, who also requested Diimmler’s personal cellphone records going back to August 2016, told Diimmler he would not accept her resignation but instead recommend her termination.
“Specifically, your conduct, in having an inappropriate relationship with a student, lying about that relationship to me, and contacting [redacted] despite my directive that you not do so, manifests an evident unfitness for teaching, justifying your termination,” he wrote.
Judge Brian Buck holds a bond hearing for fired Airport High assistant principal Dawn Diimmler. Court rules forbid recording audio and video of the offender. Tim Dominicktdominick@thestate.com
Diimmler was fired by the Lexington School District Two board Feb. 12, hours after the district announced she and Airport High School principal Brad Coleman were placed on administrative leave.
She waived her right to to be heard by the board before board members made their decision, according to a letter sent from James to Diimmler on Feb. 13.
The State requested any complaints or employment reviews related to Diimmler’s time with the school district; however, the district did not provide those documents, citing a provision of the state’s Freedom of Information Act that says agencies may decline to produce “information of a personal nature where the public disclosure thereof would constitute unreasonable invasion of personal privacy.”
Diimmler’s firing came after an investigation into allegations that she was involved in an “unprofessional relationship with a student.” During that investigation, the district uncovered information that indicated possible criminal activity and notified Cayce police on Jan. 30, officials have said.
Coleman, who remains principal at Airport High School but is on administrative leave, has no disciplinary actions in his personnel file, district spokeswoman Dawn Kujawa said in a letter to The State. District officials have not released details about Coleman’s alleged involvement or the reason for his administrative leave.
Diimmler previously was assistant principal at Pine Ridge Middle School. Before coming to Lexington School District Two, she taught with the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice’s Birchwood High School and then spent a decade in Lexington-Richland School District 5 teaching at River Springs Elementary School, Leaphart Elementary and Irmo Middle, according to a copy of her resume, which was provided by Lexington School District Two.