Bridges Preparatory School has tapped the former principal of a Charleston area charter school as its new interim head of school.
Robert Bohnstengel, a teacher and principal with 40 years of experience, started work Monday after the school's board of directors approved his hiring in an emergency session July 24.
Bohnstengel replaces Benjamin Rollins. Rollins' contract was voided by the board of directors over "discrepancies and significant omissions on his resume," the school announced July 10. He had been on the job 10 days.
Bohnstengel's contract with Bridges will run through Dec. 31, and a search for a permanent head of school will start in the fall.
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Bohnstengel last served as the principal of James Island Charter High School, but left the school during controversy in December 2013. Bohnstengel, who planned to retire at the end of the 2013-14 school year, sued the school that month after being put on administrative leave in November, according to Charleston County court records.
In a response to his suit, the school accused him of an ethics violation, claiming he failed to disclose he worked for a company training teachers when he recommended the school sign a contract with that company.
In June, it was announced that Bohnstengel would receive a $60,000 settlement from the school, which admitted that Bohnstengel did not violate any ethics laws, according to The (Charleston) Post & Courier. The school said in a statement that Bohnstengel had served "ethically and with distinction" as principal, while Bohnstengel told the paper the accusations were "false and baseless."
Bridges board chairwoman Dee Matthews said in the release that Bohnstengel was thoroughly vetted before his hire.
"Every kind of background check that can be done, has been done," Matthews said. "He's been endorsed by the State Charter School District and the South Carolina Charter Alliance. He's well-known and respected among educators, and we are proud to have him."
Bohnstengel earned a bachelor's degree from the University of South Carolina, a master's degree and an educational specialist degree from The Citadel, and a doctorate in education administration from USC, the release said. He began his teaching career with the Jasper County School District in the mid-1970s.
In 2003, he became an assistant principal at James Island High School, helping convert it into a charter school. In 2005, he became principal, serving until his official retirement in 2014 after his lawsuit was settled.
Students at Bridges Prep return to school Aug. 12.
Bohnstengel will be the sixth head of school at Bridges Prep in three years:
- Melesia Walden, the initial head of school, left about a month into the first school year in September 2013, citing disagreements with the board of directors.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.
- Bridges Prep charter school fires new principal, July 29, 2015