A North Dakota principal accused of setting fire to his high school early Monday morning has been arrested, leaving school officials to scramble to find a place to hold classes the rest of the year.
Principal Thomas Sander, 30, of Trinity High School in Dickinson is being charged with arson and endangerment by fire after allegedly setting fire to a file cabinet in the office vault at the school, according to The Dickinson Press.
Sander was held on a $500,000 cash bond after a hearing Wednesday, the newspaper reports. If convicted, he could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a fine of $20,000 or both.
Investigators have not released details about motive in the case.
No injuries were reported. The fire remains under investigation.
The fire caused major structural and smoke damage to the building, according to media reports. The front office of the school, which opened in 1961, suffered the most fire damage, according to The Bismarck Tribune.
Rev. Patrick Schumacher, the vice president of Dickinson Catholic Schools, told the Dickinson Press there also was “extensive damage” to the main floor. Most materials, such as textbooks, are unusable, the newspaper says.
Classes at the school were canceled for the week, according to the school's website. Dickinson Catholic Schools President Steve Glasser said Trinity plans to resume classes next Monday at Dickinson Public Schools and Dickinson State University facilities, the Dickinson Press reports. TMI, a laminate manufacturer in Dickinson, has offered space for administration offices, the Bismark Tribune says.
“The Dickinson Public Schools, their administration has been incredible to work with the last two days. Dickinson State has been wonderful,” Glasser told the Dickinson Press. “We are so humbled by the outpouring of support. Dickinson Public Schools has just been off the charts with their generosity. We’re so appreciative of that.”
Plans for the future of the school will be outlined following an Ash Wednesday Mass, according to the school. Sander, a Missouri native hired in July 2013, came to Dickinson after working as an administrative intern at St. Albert's High School in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
He had also worked in marketing at NBC Universal in New York City before pursuing a career in education, according to the Dickinson Press.
The school has set up a Trinity United Fire Relief fund asking for monetary donations.