Decision comes after former teacher’s aide charged with sexual assault

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

The Burlington Area School District has placed a Dyer Elementary School principal on leave amid criticism on how administrators responded to allegations of inappropriate contact by a former teacher’s aide.

In a letter addressed to families late Friday, one day after the Board of Education met in a lengthy closed session, the district stated Dyer Elementary School Principal Scott Schimmel was put on leave and announced a temporary shakeup of school administration involving three total schools.

Ryan Heft, assistant principal at Burlington High School, will serve as interim principal of Dyer Elementary School while Karcher Middle School Physical and Health Education teacher Jon Nelson will take Heft’s place at BHS on a temporary basis.

Nelson, according to the letter, has previously assisted with administrative duties in the district.

“A weekend provides a moment to pause. Please give students and staff the space and privacy needed to restore after a difficult week within our district,” Superintendent Stephen Plank said in the letter. “We will continue to work tirelessly to rebuild confidence with our families and the greater community.”

The difficult week, meanwhile, came after allegations former teacher’s aide Daniel Powers inappropriately touched at least three fifth grade students at Dyer Elementary School.

Powers, 57, charged with three counts of repeated sexual assault of the same child, made his initial appearance in Racine County Circuit Court on Wednesday and remains held in Racine County Jail on a $50,000 cash bond.

Powers, according to a criminal complaint, allegedly reached underneath the victim(s) shirt and touched their stomach and chest.

Victims described the touching as like a tickle, however, they found the contact uncomfortable and unwanted.

The victims additionally told investigators he would touch their legs, particularly rubbing their thighs, putting his hands underneath their pants leg and touching their calves and ankles.

The complaint alleges the incidents happened nearly every day with more frequent inappropriate actions occurring when teachers were not around.

Meanwhile, according to a Milwaukee news station, a local parent reported concerns about how Schimmel responded to concerns related to Powers.

Kaitlynn Ropp, mother of a third grader at Dyer, said she met with Schimmel in mid-February after her daughter reported concerns about Powers making inappropriate comments.

Rope, meanwhile, said the inappropriate conduct did not extend to improper touching.

But she felt the principal did not do enough.

“I send my daughter to school thinking she’s in a safe space and I put my faith in the principal thinking that he’ll do the right thing and I was let down,” she said.

The Racine County Sheriff’s Office, the lead investigator of the case, believes there are more victims of Powers’ inappropriate conduct and have asked parents to contact investigator Andrew Willis at 262-636-3323 or

Additional coverage of this matter will run in the May 5 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.