Helix HS Asst. Principal Helped Teen - NBC 7 San Diego

Helix HS Asst. Principal Helped Teen

A court ruling reveals the role the administrator played in a teen's disappearance



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    A former Helix High School assistant principal was placed on probation and ordered to perform community service for delaying the investigation surrounding a student runaway.

    Joshua Stepner, 38, was convicted Monday of obstructing or delaying an officer who was investigating the disappearance of an East County teenager.

    In the fall of 2009, Stepner gave a 16-year old female student a ride to the bus station. After Stepner's role in the teenager's travels was revealed, the school placed him on paid administrative leave.

    The charge is a misdemeanor. Stepner was acquitted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

    He has been placed on probation and was ordered to complete five days of public work service.

    This incident is just one in a series involving Helix High School staff that prompted  the Grossmont Union High School District to begin procedures to revoke the school's charter status.

    Losing that status means the school would no longer be able to act independently of the district and still receive state money.

    In April, a settlement was reached in which the principal of Helix HS, Doug Smith, agreed to resign.

    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 sex 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.