The St. Helena Unified School District has accepted Lead K-5 Principal Sherri Kelly’s request for reassignment due to personal reasons after she was arrested Friday on suspicion of DUI and violating a restraining order.
Kelly, whose legal name is Sherrill Dappen, was pulled over at 8 p.m. Friday when she was driving her vehicle in the vicinity of the protected party’s home in St. Helena, said St. Helena Police Sgt. Scott Fleming. According to court documents, a restraining order granted Feb. 6 bars Kelly from going within 100 yards of the home of her estranged husband.
After Kelly was pulled over, the officer reported smelling alcohol and did a field sobriety test, Fleming said. Kelly was found to be over the legal limit, Fleming said.
Kelly was arrested and booked at the county jail on suspicion of driving under the influence and of violating a court order, Fleming said.
She was later released, but on Monday a judge issued a warrant for her arrest on felony charges of domestic violence and stalking, stemming from a Feb. 5 incident.
According to a complaint filed by St. Helena police, the victim claims Kelly bit his hand after he found her outside his bedroom window after midnight.
As of Tuesday, Kelly had not been arrested on the felony charges.
Kelly joined the school district in 1991 as a fourth-grade teacher. She also served as reading and assessment coordinator and RLS Middle School vice principal.
She was named K-5 lead principal in April 2011, and has been serving as principal of St. Helena Elementary School. On Monday she was reassigned to “teacher on special assignment,” according to a district statement.
Superintendent Bill McGuire praised Kelly’s work in establishing the district’s new K-5 program.
“No one dedicated more time and effort on establishing our new program than Sherri,” McGuire said in the statement. “Without her efforts we would not be where we are today. While this transition will be difficult, I respect Ms. Kelly’s recognition to focus her attentions on family, at this time.”
The district plans to name an interim principal by Friday. In the meantime, St. Helena High School Principal Julie Synyard is directing day-to-day operations at the elementary school.
The new staffing arrangement will cost about $50,000.
Over the next few weeks, the district will undertake a nationwide search for principals at both the primary and elementary school levels for the 2012-13 school year. Staff should have a final recommendation in time for the May 10 school board meeting.
(The Napa Valley Register contributed to this article.)