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Bowman County school superintendent placed on paid administrative leave

BOWMAN--The Bowman County School Board has put its district superintendent on paid administrative leave indefinitely after the superintendent was recently charged with four drug-related crimes.

BOWMAN-The Bowman County School Board has put its district superintendent on paid administrative leave indefinitely after the superintendent was recently charged with four drug-related crimes.

David Mahon, the Bowman County Schools superintendent, has been charged with two counts of endangerment of a child or vulnerable adult, a Class C felony, as well as possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance, both of which are Class B misdemeanors. Mahon has not been arrested on the charges.

Court documents filed in the case allege Mahon possessed marijuana and a marijuana plant in his residence in Bowman on or about March 15. It also alleges Mahon possessed multiple smoking devices and other drug paraphernalia items in his residence. A search warrant was executed by law enforcement at the home on March 15.

Court documents also claim that Mahon "knowingly or intentionally caused or permitted a child or vulnerable adult to be exposed to, to ingest or inhale, or to have contact with a controlled substance, a chemical substance or drug paraphernalia, specifically ... (Mahon) knowingly permitted a child, his son ... born in 2000, to be exposed to, and have contact with paraphernalia and to ingest or inhale marijuana" in Mahon's home in Bowman on March 15. The charge reads similarly for another minor born in 2000.

The maximum penalty for a Class C felony is five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both. The maximum penalty for a Class B misdemeanor is 30 days in jail, a $1,500 fine or both.

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The board's decision to place Mahon on indefinite paid administrative leave came after the school's staff and the public had an opportunity to give input and discuss the matter during a special school board meeting on Wednesday evening.

During the meeting, staff and members of the public noted the importance of keeping the students in mind when making a decision about what to do. Several staff members expressed gratitude for the board allowing their thoughts to be heard.

School board President Dan Peterson felt the meeting went well and was an opportunity for people to listen to facts rather than form opinions off of rumors and hearsay. Peterson said the school board was working off of practically no information before Wednesday. The board sent out a letter on Monday informing the public about the lack of information at that time.

The school board will be seeking counsel on the matter as the case continues to move forward and will continue to re-address the situation when necessary. Peterson said he felt the decision they made Wednesday was right for the time and the information they had available to them. The board decided on the action unanimously.

"We really had no choice but to do that," he said. "If you're truly putting the kids' best interest at heart, regardless of what you think of someone, those charges have been filed and you have to act appropriately."

As a part of the board's decision, Mahon will also not have access to school property, including campus and school email.

The school board will now weigh its options of how to fill the superintendent's position in the interim. Several ideas were proposed, including dividing the duties among the school principals and asking for assistance from the former superintendent, but the board took no action on the matter on Wednesday.

An official court date has not been set on the matter, though Peterson said the case may not be taken up until May. An attorney is not listed for Mahon in court records.

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The case is being prosecuted by Adams County State's Attorney Aaron Roseland as there is a conflict of interest with Bowman County State's Attorney Stephanie Pretzer, who sits on several boards with Mahon.

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