‘Administrative leave’ evolves to ‘contract non-renewal’;
New SMS principal named
Southern Middle School principal Matt Ritter will not be returning for the 2023-24 school year.
Ritter, who had worked at Southern Middle School for 19 years prior to being appointed as principal in June 2021, was listed as a “contract non-renewal” on the latest semi-monthly personnel report that school board members approved during their work session Tuesday afternoon.
Ritter had been placed on administrative leave with pay on April 26, based on information that Alamance-Burlington school officials provided at the time in response to a public records request by The Alamance News.
Donna King, a retired longtime ABSS principal, had been filling in as the interim principal at Southern Middle School since May 2.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Fogleman has been hired as the new principal at Southern Middle School, effective Wednesday, June 14, based on a raft of administrative appointments that school board members voted unanimously, 6-0, to approve during their work session.
Butler, however, demurred when asked at the May 1 press conference whether the decision to place Ritter, then principal at Southern Middle School, on administrative leave was in any way related to the arrest of Ivan Danilo Ardila-Perez.
See earlier stories on Southern Middle School teacher’s suspension and firing:
April 29: News conference to discuss arrest of SMS teacher Ivan Danilo Ardila-Perez: https://alamancenews.com/news-conference-monday-afternoon-will-focus-on-arrest-of-southern-middle-school-teacher-coach-for-taking-indecent-liberties-with-a-students/
May 1: Joint news conference with sheriff Terry Johnson and ABSS superintendent Dr. Dain Butler; seven students have come forward, so far: https://alamancenews.com/sheriffs-investigation-reveals-that-seven-female-victims-11-13-have-accused-sms-teacher-of-taking-indecent-liberties-so-far/
May 4: Possible charges if school officials knew of allegations of abuse, but didn’t report them to DSS/law enforcement: https://alamancenews.com/what-are-potential-charges-if-abss-officials-knew-of-allegations-but-did-not-report-them/
May 4 Interim SMS principal named: https://alamancenews.com/interim-principal-appointed-at-sms/
Ardila-Perez was initially suspended with pay on April 26, later suspended without pay, and then fired by he school board on May 9.
The newspaper has been unable to confirm when Ritter learned about the allegations against Ardila-Perez and whether he failed to notify his supervisors or law enforcement, as required by state law.
Ardila-Perez, 37, white male, of 3627 Maple Avenue, Burlington, has been charged with six counts each of felony indecent liberties with a child and felony indecent liberties with a student, based on his Alamance County court files.
Johnson said at the May 1 press conference that his investigation had revealed there was probable cause to believe Ardila-Perez may have had inappropriate sexual contact, on school property and during school hours, with as many as seven female students between the ages of 11 and 13.
Butler confirmed during last month’s press conference that Ardila-Perez had been hired at Southern Middle School in September 2022.
The superintendent said he had been notified about the investigation into the allegations against Ardila-Perez on April 26.
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ABSS officials subsequently confirmed for The Alamance News that Ardila-Perez had been recruited through Participate Learning in Chapel Hill, one of several organizations that the school system works with and allows teachers from other countries to teach in North Carolina public schools on temporary work visas. His starting salary was $52,405 per year.
Ardila-Perez had previously been employed as a faculty member in the foreign language institute at the Universidad Santo Tomás in Colombia, according to his online resume.
His court files for the pending charges state that the alleged offenses occurred between September 2022 and February 2023.
Ardila-Perez is currently being held in Alamance County jail on $300,000 secured bond. He is scheduled to make his next appearance in district court in September.
Ritter’s final salary as principal at Southern Middle School was $101,051 per year, based on information that ABSS furnished Wednesday in response to a public records request by The Alamance News.