D.C. Charter School Principal Charged With Sex Abuse

By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

The D.C. school board will consider revoking the charter of one of its schools today after its principal was charged this week with repeatedly sexually assaulting a foster child in his care, police said.

Desmond Kirk Pierre-Louis, 45, who supervises high school students at the Village Learning Center in Northeast Washington, is being held without bond in Fairfax County jail in connection with assaults that allegedly took place nearly three years ago in his Franconia home, according to Fairfax County police.

Police said that between May and December of 2000, a boy who was then 14 spent several weekends at the home of Pierre-Louis, a respite foster parent.

It was during those visits that the boy was allegedly sexually assaulted. The boy reported the assaults to police in August 2002, police said.

Pierre-Louis was arrested inside his home in the 6500 block of Greyledge Court in Franconia about 7:30 p.m. Monday and was charged with forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties with a minor while in a supervisory relationship, police said.

This may be the final straw for the school, which has had a history of problems, said D.C. Board of Education President Peggy Cooper Cafritz.

The charter school's difficulties were already on the agenda for tonight's board meeting.

But this latest incident probably will force one of two outcomes, Cafritz said: Either the school would be placed on probation to begin the process of revoking its charter, and a new principal would oversee the school until it is disbanded in June, or the board would vote to close it immediately and disperse the students among other charter schools.

The school, at 33 Riggs Rd. NE, has had problems paying its lease and federal taxes on teachers' salaries. Gas was turned off at the school recently when the bill wasn't paid. And its test scores fall below the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, said Brenda Belton, the school board's executive director of charter schools. The school was cleared of allegations that some of its teachers did not have college degrees.

Village Learning Center, which opened as a D.C. charter school in 1997, placed Pierre-Louis on leave yesterday, and faculty members met with students to explain the situation, said dean of faculty Robert Childs.

"We're all surprised by this," he said. "Academically, [Pierre-Louis] was great. He is very well-educated, and we were very fortunate to have him."

Pierre-Louis began working at the charter school in August 2002, after a police background check showed no problems, Childs said. The school has a little more than 450 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

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