On the heels of several years of scandal, Helix Charter High School found itself with an assistant principal accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor for helping a 16-year old female student in her attempt to runaway.
La Mesa police said the runaway Helix student was gone for several days late September but that she was not housed or sheltered by the school administrator.
The assistant principal, identified by multiple sources as Josh Stepner, was originally placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
However in a decision Monday night, the charter school's governing board voted unanimously to terminate the administrator's contract without cause, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune..
It's the fifth police case in the last three years at the school. After four cases involving sexual relationships between teachers and students at Helix Charter, this is a much different set of circumstances, however.
"To date the investigation doesn't indicate any sexual activity, anything involving drugs or alcohol," La Mesa Police Lt. David Bond said. "But some of the actions did -- or it's alleged -- that some actions did contribute to the delinquency of this 16-year-old female minor."
A charge of contributing to her delinquency -- if filed by prosecutors -- would be a misdemeanor, not a felony.
Some parents including Linda Ibarra supported Stepner after news of the accusation broke.
"He's an amazing counselor, and whatever he was doing, I'm almost positive that was what he thought was in the best interest of this student," Ibarra said.
Officials with Helix Charter declined to speak on camera but did issue a statement at the time of the incident. Click here to read the entire statement.
Unfortunately, scandals are nothing new at Helix Charter High School. Between 2006 and 2008, four teachers were arrested and convicted of sexual misconduct with students.
Band director Jessica Kahal, 22, was arrested in October 2007 for having sexing with a 17-year old student. She pleaded guilty in February of 2008 and received three years probation.
In December 2006, Frank Palumbo, a band teacher, received five years probation after pleading guilty to having sex with a 17-year old student.
In May 2008 a geography teacher and coach of the girl's soccer team was arrested for having sex with a student in a hotel room. Garry Wilcox, 44, taught at the school for 13 years and was accused of having sex with the student when she was 16 or 17 years old. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in August 2008 to one year in custody followed by probation.
In September 2009, Jeff Wenham, a former Helix High School Advisor, pleaded guilty to committing a lewd act on a minor after his relationship with a 17-year old female student was discovered. In this case, the student had come to Wenham for help to get out of a sexual relationship with another Helix teacher.
Wenham received three years probation.