Randolph High Co-Principal Cited Into Court; Lawyer Denies Any Wrongdoing With Former Student

  • David Barnett

Valley News Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Randolph — Police have cited a Randolph Union High School co-principal into court on a sexual misconduct charge, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

David Barnett, 50, of Waitsfield, Vt., is due to appear in Orange Superior Court next month on an allegation of an “inappropriate relationship” with a former student, the Orange County Special Investigations Unit said in a Tuesday news release.

Police cited Barnett on a felony count of sexual exploitation of a minor. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, or both.

A charge of sexual exploitation of a minor in Vermont can arise if the person is at least four years older than the minor and is in a position of power, authority or supervision over the minor, according to state law.

Orange County State’s Attorney William Porter said he is aware of the development, but hasn’t yet received the necessary documents to formally charge Barnett and declined comment.

Barnett’s attorney, Brooks McArthur, said his client denies any wrongdoing.

“He intends to aggressively defend himself against the charges. He denies the allegations against him,” said McArthur, who is based in Burlington.

The school district’s attorney, Pietro Lynn, of Burlington, said Barnett is still on leave, but that status could change imminently.

“The school anticipates that it will act quickly on this newly discovered information,” Lynn said.

Orange Southwest School District Superintendent Layne Millington issued a statement on Tuesday morning.

“The district condemns any educator who uses his or her position to take advantage of students. Professional educators have an obligation to use their authority over students to support learning, not to engage in misconduct,” Millington said in the statement. “We will not tolerate serious misconduct directed at students by our employees. We will administer discipline, up to and including termination of the employee.”

The district placed Barnett on leave in January and told parents that authorities were investigating allegations of misconduct between a Randolph High administrator and a former student.

“Now that the criminal investigation is complete, we expect to take prompt and appropriate action,” Millington said. “Student safety and a supportive learning environment is our highest priority. We will continue to work diligently to provide our students with safe schools.”

Barnett joined Randolph Union High in 2007 as associate principal after turning down a job in Italy, The Herald of Randolph reported in 2012.

He became co-principal during the 2010-11 school year. He lead the high school alongside Co-Principal Elijah Hawkes.

Prior to that, Barnett served as an educational consultant in the Vermont Agency of Education and taught English in Ocean City, Md.

In 2012, the Vermont Principals Association named Barnett its Secondary Principal of the Year.

Barnett is the second principal in the White River Valley to face sexual misconduct charges this school year. Former South Royalton School Principal Dean Stearns pleaded not guilty in November to criminal charges that allege he surreptitiously recorded a teenage girl in her bedroom and bathroom while she was staying in his home.

Barnett is slated to appear in court on April 25.

Valley News correspondent Mike Donoghue contributed to this report.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.