WATERVILLE — School board members say their decision to dismiss former Waterville Senior High School Principal Don Reiter was based on the evidence presented in a three-day disciplinary hearing, and they were not influenced by new allegations that Reiter had inappropriate relationships with students in New Hampshire more than a decade ago.

The board voted 6-1 Monday night to fire Reiter, who had been on leave since Sept. 1. He has 30 days to appeal.

The school department’s attorney alleged that Reiter took a female student into his office on the first day of school in late August, told her he had selected her to have sex with him, and said that if she tried to leave, she would never graduate.

Kennebec County District Attorney Meaghan Maloney said Tuesday her office is still reviewing information the Waterville Police Department uncovered before deciding whether to press criminal charges.

Reiter’s disciplinary hearing before the Board of Education included hours of testimony and evidence, most given in executive session. The hearing followed a two-month investigation by school department administrators into the student’s allegations against Reiter.

Schools Superintendent Eric Haley didn’t respond to calls seeking information on whether Reiter, who was paid $102,000 a year, will get severance pay and how long Assistant Principal Brian Laramee would continue as acting principal at the school, which has 500 students and about 40 teachers.

The Waterville Police Department completed a four-week criminal investigation into the allegations on Sept. 25 and sent the results to the district attorney’s office for review. Then on Sunday, police confirmed they were investigating new allegations that Reiter had inappropriate relationships with high school students when he worked in New Hampshire.

On Monday, hours before the board hearing, Waterville police released a detailed timeline about the department’s investigation, which started last Thursday, of allegations by two former students at Mascenic Regional High School in New Ipswich, New Hampshire.

One said she had a relationship with Reiter that became sexual during or after her senior year, and another said she had an inappropriate relationship with Reiter when she was 17 years old and gave police 147 pages of letters he allegedly wrote to her. Reiter worked at the school from 1998 to 2004.

School board members on Monday voted unanimously not to reopen the case to consider possible new evidence from the New Hampshire allegations.

In an email Tuesday night, Gregg Frame, Reiter’s attorney, said he was “disappointed, understandably,” by the board’s decision to dismiss the principal.

“Over the next week or so, I will sit down with my client and discuss whether an appeal is warranted,” Frame said.

Reiter was hired as Waterville Senior High School principal in 2007 and was popular with students and staff. There was strong support for him in the community.

But the allegations released Monday afternoon shook the confidence of some vocal supporters.

Shanon Dixon, a mother of six Waterville Senior High School graduates, helped organize a rally for Reiter at the high school last Friday and planned another in front of the George J. Mitchell School before Monday’s school board hearing.

That demonstration was called off, however, when the new allegations were detailed by police Monday afternoon, and Dixon said she didn’t attend the hearing.

Although she isn’t certain the allegations against Reiter are true, she is no longer fully supporting him.

“I went from totally backing him to having skepticism, and if I have skepticism, I can’t back him 100 percent,” Dixon said.

Dixon said she spent Monday feeling “literally sick to her stomach, thinking what a horrible person I was” because now she thinks the Waterville student who accused Reiter might be telling the truth.

“I feel terrible for definitely thinking the girl was a liar. Look at how she has been ridiculed,” Dixon said. She had wondered why, if the allegations were true, more students hadn’t come forward.

“Because of people like me who judge, that’s why,” Dixon said. “That’s easy to answer.”


Board member Susan Reisert was the only one to vote against dismissing Reiter.

“I was not persuaded by the evidence and could not in good conscience vote to dismiss given the evidence and testimony given to us,” she said Tuesday.

Because the new allegations were from New Hampshire and at least a decade old, she did not place much weight on them, Reisert said.

She voted against reopening the case to consider the new allegations because she didn’t believe it was the board’s place, she said.

Reiter still has supporters in the community, and Reisert said she has received emails from people who say they did not want him to be fired.

Three board members who voted to dismiss Reiter said Tuesday the New Hampshire allegations didn’t play a role in their decision, but the evidence presented at the hearing did.

Board member Pamela Trinward said the evidence they heard, much of it in executive session, made it more likely that Reiter’s accuser was telling the truth.

“The way she behaved following the incident was more believable than the way he did,” Trinward said.

Board Chairwoman Sara Sylvester said she was glad the ordeal was over, but “there is no relief there because there is no winner.”

Sylvester said she voted to dismiss Reiter because of the evidence presented in the case.

“I feel that I have a duty to protect the students of the Waterville School District,” she said.

The board was presented with enough evidence to make an informed decision, she added.

“I really want people to know it wasn’t taken lightly. It’s sad,” she said. “There is no victory lap after this.”

Board member Joan Phillips-Sandy said she was leaning toward dismissal by the end of the session last Wednesday and was quite certain of her decision by Monday night’s meeting.

“I voted that way because I believe that is where the evidence led me,” she said.

“I have been on the board a long time, and I have worked with Don,” she said. “Personally, I like him and respected his work as a principal, but I had to fairly assess the evidence as presented.”

The New Hampshire allegations are “completely irrelevant” to the Waterville case, she said.


On Tuesday, Waterville Police Chief Joe Massey said the police department’s final report on Reiter still stands. Waterville investigators looked into the New Hampshire allegations to see if there was any connection to the Waterville allegations against Reiter.

“We did not uncover anything new in terms of criminal charges in Waterville,” Massey said.

Releasing detailed information about the New Hampshire investigation Monday afternoon was not connected to the school board hearing three hours later, Massey said.

“We thought the public interest would be best served,” Massey said. “It had nothing to do with the timing of the board meeting.”

Maloney, the district attorney, said Tuesday afternoon her office has received the letters Reiter allegedly sent to his former New Hampshire student, and she intends to review them before making a recommendation on criminal charges.

She has already completed a review of the investigation into the Waterville allegations but wanted to see if there was anything in the letters “that bears a similarity” to the local case.

“I think it is important for me to review all the information at my disposal” before making a decision, Maloney said.