Details of superintendent’s relationship with student released
March 24, 2010
By KAREN VELIE
Superintendent Dean Smith agreed to resign rather than face termination for an inappropriate relationship with a former student.
An investigation authorized by the San Miguel School Board resulted in charges for terminating Smith, 55.
The investigation found that Smith had utilized his position as an administrator to develop a relationship with a former student, we will call “Anne,” and that Smith had touched, kissed, and drank alcohol with her before she turned 18, according to district documents received through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Smith is slated to remain on paid administrative leave until his official June 30 resignation.
“While it is true that I met ‘Anne’ while she was a student, my association with her and her family was perfectly appropriate, and was known and approved by her mother,” Smith said in his written response to the charges. “The only touching that occurred in middle school was innocent and public.”
Smith also asserts that the only time he witnessed “Anne” drinking alcohol was when another adult served the underage girl while her mother looked on.
The investigation was prompted by allegations, first reported by CalCoastNews, that Smith had been seen spending time with “Anne,” before she turned 18. Shortly after “Anne” turned 18, she was photographed in public, sharing intimate exchanges with Smith.
According to the charges, sometime around 2004, Smith, then principal of Templeton Middle School, first met and began spending time with “Anne,” a seventh grader at the time. Smith said he stepped in to play the role of a “real father.”
Smith said that ‘Anne’ had turned to him after experiencing sexual abuse and he helped her, according to the charges. “Smith stated he used his ‘pastor hat’ when interacting with her.”
After he left Templeton Middle School for the superintendent position in San Miguel, Smith continued his relationship with “Anne.” Using his district e-mail account, Smith began e-mailing “Anne” in 2007. In 2008, “Anne” and Smith began texting and communicating through Facebook.
“I am totally stressed out and out of control,” Smith e-mailed “Anne” on Jan. 9, 2008. “I need out. Can you help?”
In April 2009, “Anne” e-mailed Smith to tell him that her phone was broken, “I can’t survive. How am I supposed to text you?”
On May 1, 2009, Smith sent “Anne” a Facebook message, “I love you and I’m done with this for now.”
Smith also admitted to investigators, according to the charges, that he had romantic feelings for “Anne” before May 18, 2009, when she turned 18. He contends he did not have a sexual relationship with “Anne” while she was a minor.
The board also said that Smith’s regular absences, while he was in Templeton with “Anne,” interfered with his ability to perform his duties. During his frequent escapes, Smith passed his administrative duties on to other employees, as well as to San Luis Obispo Sheriff Deputy Clinton Cole.
On Nov. 10, 2009, while Cole was covering for Smith, Cole signed suspension orders for two students and sent them home. However, Cole was not authorized to pen suspensions, according to the school board’s charges.
Investigators also discovered Smith had been using his district computer to look at pictures of young models, either nude or in seductive poses, and clips of a partially nude Brooke Shields in the film “Pretty Baby.”
In the film, a 12-year-old Shields plays a young woman who is raised in a brothel and becomes involved with a much older man.
Smith chastised the board for investigating him after the sheriff’s department had looked into the issue and concluded nothing illegal had occurred.
“At the time the board adopted the charges, its members knew both that the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s department had investigated, six month before, a complaint filed by a person unknown to me, of sexual abuse of a minor relating to “Anne” and me, and also that nothing had come of that investigation,” Smith said in his response. “Yet, the board persisted.”
Despite the fact that the sheriff’s probe found no illegal activity, some board members and law enforcement officials nevertheless question the thoroughness of the sheriff’s investigation. Just hours after the first report had been made to law enforcement, someone allegedly warned Smith about the impending investigation.
Deputy Cole, the officer assigned to the San Miguel Joint Unified School District beat, is a friend of Smith’s, and at one time lived on Smith’s property.