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StarBulletin.com

Teacher resigns because of allegation 'distractions'


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POSTED: Saturday, November 14, 2009

Kamehameha Schools has accepted the resignation of a teacher who was banned by his religious order from teaching and ministry with minors after being accused of sexual misconduct in Wisconsin about 17 years ago.

Thomas Gardipee's resignation was accepted “;to eliminate any possible lingering distractions,”; said Michael J. Chun, president and headmaster of Kamehameha Schools, Kapalama Campus.

The resignation follows a Sept. 25 story in the Star-Bulletin reporting Gardipee's background and what his order regarded as “;inappropriate behavior.”;

Chun, who made the announcement yesterday, said criminal background checks conducted by an outside firm prior to the hiring of Gardipee in 2002 did not uncover any criminal convictions.

“;We confirmed that all charges in the criminal suit brought against him in Wisconsin were dismissed,”; Chun said.

Chun said there have been no subsequent allegations leveled against Gardipee during his tenure at Kamehameha Schools.

“;To the contrary, published reports of the ... Wisconsin accusations have drawn hundreds of statements of support from our students, faculty and parents,”; Chun said.

Gardipee, 52, who joined the staff in August 2002, taught world history to high school students at the Kapalama campus.

He was unavailable for comment when called last night, and his lawyer has said that criminal charges against Gardipee were dismissed.

Gardipee was suspended as a teacher and athletic director at St. Lawrence Seminary High School in December 1992 after allegations of sexual misconduct arose, then permanently removed from the job, according to John Celichowski, provincial minister of the Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order.

Celichowski said Gardipee spent his remaining years with the Capuchins making and selling pottery and was granted dispensation from his religious vows in May 2001.

Gardipee was hired by Kamehameha a year after he chose to leave his religious order.