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Conviction hurts school

Parents pull students out of private campus after learning pastor pleaded guilty to paying for sex.

March 26, 2010|By Brianna Bailey

The pastor also said he did not know if the school was struggling with low enrollment numbers.

Kempner said he has not had any involvement in the day-to-day operations at the school in about two months.

The school’s board had in fact passed a resolution banning Kempner from being on school grounds or dealing with school matters, Gaumond said. However, the church over which Kempner presides is on the same property as the school at 2987 Mesa Verde Drive East.

Parents found out about Kempner’s past arrest and conviction when he failed to complete a required background check to work in close proximity with young children who attend Prince of Peace’s preschool program, the parents said in a written statement.

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The campus serves about 140 students, a parent said.

“It is unfortunate that the decisions that were made impacted this small but beautiful community school so greatly,” the parents’ statement said. “Our hope is that a miracle will happen in order to keep this amazing school open next year.”

The school was owned until last year by Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, when it was sold to Beach Cities Calvary.

It appears the Prince of Peace church has dissolved since it sold the school. Attempts to contact the Rev. Mark Rogers, former Prince of Peace Lutheran Church pastor, were unsuccessful Friday.

Prince of Peace School was in a state of flux when Beach Cities Calvary took over, Kempner said.

“We put $40,000 into the school just to pay teachers’ salaries, because it had become insolvent,” he said.

World War II prison camp survivor Esther Olson helped found the Prince of Peace school more than 40 years ago.

Olson served as a Lutheran missionary in the Philippines during the war.

She spent three years in a Japanese prison camp there and was a survivor of the Bataan Death March of 1942.

Parents and former administrators at the school described Prince of Peace as a community institution in the Mesa Verde area with a long tradition of high educational standards.

The latest issue of the school newsletter, the Lamplighter, includes pictures of a recent school skate night, an announcement for the spring school fair and pleas from the fifth-grade class for recyclables to raise money for a trip to astronomy camp.

“The memories I have of the place are fond and wonderful,” said retired Prince of Peace Principal Debra Ogas, who presided over the school for 10 years. “I hope the school can thrive again one day.”


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