School administrators reprimanded for inappropriate relationship

Posted at 7:09 AM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 14:33:08-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Parents and students are asking questions about why their principal and assistant principal were suddenly removed at a Lehigh Acres middle school before winter break. Now we know the answer.

Varsity Lakes Middle School principal Daman Essert was demoted and his assistant principal Kimberly Conn was reassigned from the school after a district investigation.

According to recently released documents, the investigation ultimately ended with Principal Essert's resignation.

It all started with a teacher so disgusted he resigned from Varsity Lakes Middle School in September -- but not before sending a scathing email to the district about his bosses, Essert and Conn.

He claimed the two administrators had a relationship that was "highly unethical, salaciously unprofessional, and immature".  Leaving even the students to wonder what was going on between them.

In that complaint the teacher said Essert and Conn's relationship was "plainly evident to the student population at the school. The deleterious effects of their toxic behaviors are clearly creating lost opportunities for the student population and that is deeply saddening for me."

The complaint launched a district investigation.  When questioned, Principal Essert admitted to having a romantic and sexual relationship with Conn, who according to these documents, he supervised and performed employee evaluations for. He reported they "kissed while on campus at Varsity Lakes Middle, but denied further sexual activity" there.

Assistant Principal Conn also admitted to the inappropriate relationship.  Documents show they "initiated the relationship that went beyond collegial after she had surgery near the end of April 2016."

Then two months later, Essert promoted Conn to his assistant principal for the 2016-2017 school year.

Last month, the district gave Essert a written reprimand and notice of the investigation, where they told him he was "being demoted to a classroom instructional position effective immediately. Further conduct of this nature could lead to further disciplinary action, up to and including termination." 

But instead of taking the demotion,Essert sent in a resigation letter.

Conn was also reprimanded.  She has been reassigned to the assistant principal position at Cypress Lake High School.


Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Kim Conn was demoted to a teacher position.