Thorp school board places principal on administrative leave

THORP, Wis. (WSAW) -- The Thorp school board has voted to place their middle school and elementary principal on administrative leave.

Craig Michaelis is accused of hitting a traffic pole with his vehicle and driving away from the scene while allegedly drunk.

Thorp School District superintendent John Humphries released the following statement Tuesday night:

"On Tuesday July 23rd, the Thorp School District Board of Education met in closed session to discuss recent events concerning Mr. Michaelis and to confer with legal counsel. Mr. Michaelis was placed on Administrative Leave pending results of an investigation and subsequent Board action. Wisconsin Fair Employment Law prohibits discrimination, including disciplinary action, against employees on the basis of pending legal charges. We therefore plan to wait for the conclusion of this process before taking further action, and will begin preparations for the new school year without Mr. Michaelis' leadership."

On the Thorp Middle School and Elementary School websites, Michaelis welcomes students with a note citing the school's three core values: respect, responsibility, and safety.

Michaelis is new to the Thorp School District. He spent much of his career in the Marshfield School District serving in different roles between 1999-2018. According to Marshfield School District's human resource director, for his first 13 years he was a math teacher, from 2012-2016 he was the assistant principal of Grant Elementary School, and for his last two years he held the same position but this time at Marshfield Middle School. He resigned last year.

On July 11, Marshfield Police came across a light pole down, blocking traffic on McMillan Street near Central Avenue around 1 a.m. Officers found a license plate left behind along with enough radiator fluid for officers to follow to the driver's home about a mile away.

Police Chief Rick Gramza said officers could smell alcohol on the driver's breath and put him through field sobriety tests, ultimately arresting him and citing him for drunk driving.