- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) - School officials have named an acting principal for a western North Dakota high school heavily damaged in a fire that authorities say was started by the former principal.

The Rev. Kregg Hochhalter, the chaplain of Trinity High School in Dickinson, was named dean of students Friday and will serve as acting principal, the Bismarck Tribune ((https://bit.ly/1ffWuFV ) reported. Hochhalter is expected to become principal in three years when he obtains the necessary credentials.

Monday morning’s fire forced school officials to cancel classes this week and relocate students to other schools for the rest of the academic year. The Catholic high school has grades 7-12 and is part of the Dickinson Catholic School system. Students are expected to resume classes March 10.

Trinity’s former principal, Thomas Sander, 30, faces charges of arson and endangerment by fire or explosion, both felonies that carry a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison. He is being held on a $500,000 cash bond.

Monsignor Patrick Schumacher said the school began the plans to appoint Hochhalter as dean of students in January, and the fire expedited the plans.

Sander had announced to his staff in early February that he would not be returning next year. He started his job at Dickinson last summer, and previously worked at Catholic schools in Omaha, Neb., and Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Schumacher said officials with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will visit Trinity on Tuesday.

The newspaper reported that the school is insured for $17 million by Catholic Mutual Group. It hasn’t been determined whether a new school will be built or if the existing will undergo repairs.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com


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