- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 9, 2014

A North Dakota high school principal faces felony arson charges in connection with a fire at the school Monday morning.

Dickinson Trinity High School principal Thomas J. Sander, 30, was booked Tuesday morning at the Southwest Multi-County Correction Center in Dickinson. He also faces a felony for endangerment by fire, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

The Dickinson Fire Department was called at 1:15 a.m. Monday to respond to the fire and had the blaze controlled shortly after 3 a.m., the newspaper said.

Sander is accused of setting the contents of a file cabinet on fire in the main office, causing structural damage to the ceiling there and heavy smoke damage throughout the building. No one was hurt, the Associated Press reported.

Dickinson Catholic Schools President Steve Glasser told the newspaper that the school will not be open the rest of the school year. The 170 students will spread out among two elementary schools, a junior high school and a church.

The Rev. Kregg Hochhalter, the school’s chaplain, was named dean of students Friday and will serve as acting principal, the Bismarck Tribune reported. Hochhalter is expected to become principal in three years when he obtains the necessary credentials.

Monsignor Patrick Schumacher, the board chairman for Dickinson Catholic Schools, said Sander passed background checks and came recommended by clergy in other states.

”He’s a graduate of a well-known and prestigious prep school in St. Louis. He has graduate degrees in administration,” he told the AP. ”With his qualifications, recommendations and work ethic, we made the decision to hire him.”

”There’s a lot of speculation as to how this may have happened,” he said. ”Every scenario has gone through my mind. I think I’ve exhausted the possibilities in my mind to try and understand what was going on in his mind. I just don’t know. There are no answers.”