WALKER — Hours after a lengthy apology was posted online and sent to parents and students, Walker High School principal Jason St. Pierre has stepped down, multiple sources confirm to Unfiltered with Kiran.
St. Pierre reportedly called faculty and staff into an emergency meeting Monday morning where he informed them he was stepping down and retiring, a move sources say caught some central office staff by surprise. It’s unknown who may replace him.
“Just thankful for the community and happy that no child will ever have to be in this situation again,” Kaylee Timonet’s mother Rachel told UWK following the resignation.
St. Pierre, a Louisiana Principal of the Year semifinalist, was embroiled in a community-wide scandal after he stripped honor student Kaylee Timonet of a scholarship endorsement and her title of president of the Student Government Association following a dance at a private party after homecoming.
Unfiltered with Kiran’s report into the principal’s actions have since sparked an investigation by the Livingston Parish School Board after garnering national and international headlines.
“They basically told me I should be ashamed of myself”
Timonet, 17, was subjected to scrutiny by St. Pierre after video of her dancing at a private party at the Livingston Parish Country Club following Walker High’s homecoming was posted online. UWK has made an editorial decision not to post the video since it was removed from social media. But the video shows Timonet dancing behind another girl who was also dancing. The quick video shows other students dancing in a similar fashion.
DJ Savage, a DJ for over 10 years hired for the post-homecoming gathering, says the video was just “kids having fun” and that the dancing “was not bad.”
Still, on Tuesday, October 3, Timonet says she was called to the front office with St. Pierre and the school’s assistant principal/instructional coach where she says she was blindsided and punished for the dance.
“They basically told me I was kicked off of student government. I just started crying hysterically. I was really, really upset because student government is the best thing that happened to me during high school. They basically told me I should be ashamed of myself and that they were concerned about my afterlife if I wasn’t following basically God’s ideals, which made me cry even more,” Kaylee told UWK.
Kaylee explained St. Pierre made her watch the video despite her telling him she did not want to watch it because she had already seen it.
“I had already seen the video and genuinely I did not think anything of it. I’ve been a dancer my entire life and I just really like to have fun,” she said. ““I felt like my life was over. Everything I worked for since I was little, always worked really hard at school. Being student of the year, at least having a chance at it, has always been my main goal. I work very hard in class. I stress myself out over everything and I’m also Beta president so there’s a lot of things on my plate that I could lose. I’m starting college this January. I’m done in December so it was a shock.”
Timonet’s mother Rachel has been outspoken on her daughter’s behalf. She says that she was at the party and did not see anything wrong with the way her child was dancing.
“My child was not representing the school in any way, shape or form at the party,” Rachel Timonet told UWK.
St. Pierre’s Apology
On Sunday evening, St. Pierre issued an apology to Timonet and said that he was reinstating her position on the Student Government Association and reinstating her scholarship endorsement.
“Our student government members are held to a high standard of student behavior,” St. Pierre said. “While I stand by that premise, I do believe that standard deserves the input of not just myself and top administrators, but also those student leaders. I hope to create a path moving forward where we can work together to create clear expectations for all.
St. Pierre also acknowledged the religious discussion he had with Timonet during their meeting.
“During my conversation with Kaylee regarding the dance party, the subject of religious beliefs was broached by Kaylee and myself. While that conversation was meant with the best intentions, I do understand it is not my responsibility to determine what students’ or others’ religious beliefs may be – that should be the responsibility of the individual.”
Good afternoon WHS Family,
I believe it is necessary to respond to the public attention that has resulted from my actions regarding Kaylee Timonet’s participation in a dance party that was sponsored at an off-site location following WHS Homecoming.
I have had time to consider my actions, have conversations with the Timonets, and meet with district staff.
First, let me say that I have apologized to the Timonets and I am hopeful that my scheduled meeting with Kaylee’s mom will rectify this situation and allow Kaylee to enjoy the remainder of her senior year at Walker High School.
I will be reinstating Kaylee’s position on the Student Government Association. The SGA was created to give students a voice in their school and their community, to promote leadership qualities, and to represent their school with pride, enthusiasm, and respect. Our student government members are held to a high standard of student behavior. While I stand by that premise, I do believe that standard deserves the input of not just myself and top administrators, but also those student leaders. I hope to create a path moving forward where we can work together to create clear expectations for all.
I will be reinstating my scholarship endorsement for Kaylee. At Walker High, we strive to place our students first in every decision so they may be prepared for whatever career path they may aspire to take, and I believe my action will assist in doing that.
Finally, during my conversation with Kaylee regarding the dance party, the subject of religious beliefs was broached by Kaylee and myself. While that conversation was meant with the best intentions, I do understand it is not my responsibility to determine what students’ or others’ religious beliefs may be – that should be the responsibility of the individual
As principal of Walker High School, I am faced daily with many difficult decisions for the interest of our students and employees that are never taken lightly. Please know that I always strive to place our students first in every decision. It is for that reason that I have taken this corrective action.
As we move forward, I ask for your continued support of Walker High School, our amazing teachers, and outstanding students.
Jason St. Pierre, Principal
Walker High School
“We don’t accept his apology”
The apology was too little, too late for Timonet and her family.
“First of all, he called me at Noon today (Sunday, Oct. 8) and asked me and my daughter to come to the office today. I refused it. He said he wanted to apologize. I told him that I came in the next day and he had his opportunity to do it then. At this point it was too late,” said Rachel Timonet. “Him asking us to come in on a Sunday was totally inappropriate.”
Timonet says she directly contacted Walker High Principal Jason St. Pierre, the asst. principal and the Livingston Parish School Board for immediate resolution on the scholarship along with the other issues, but they did not handle it quick enough according to Timonet.
“I was hoping that they would have this handled before it got to this level and that didn’t happen,” said Rachel Timonet. “Apology is not accepted. He is putting words in my mouth.”
Timonet added the scholarship was due on Oct. 3 so she says she’s unsure if he can actually reinstate her scholarship endorsement that he took away.
“As far as I know, the scholarship cannot be reinstated. He has no authority, unless he spoke to the Senator himself and got an extension.”
Timonet added he’s lying about a scheduled meeting with her and told UWK that she has no scheduled meeting with St. Pierre.
As for Kaylee, she was in tears over St. Pierre’s response.
“She doesn’t feel comfortable being on anything run by him. She’s had enough of him,” her mother told UWK.
Rachel Timonet specifically pointed out the part in St. Pierre’s email about religion where the principal said “the subject of religious beliefs was broached by Kaylee and myself.”
“I taught my children to not talk about politics and religion in any way shape or form. She does not speak about religion. And she did not speak about religion with anyone. She isn’t going to have this conversation with her principal,” she said.
“Harsh and unfair”
The incident has sparked an investigation by Livingston Parish Schools and has been a topic for many of the school board members.
Livingston Parish School Board member Kellee Hennessy Dickerson does not serve the Walker High area, but she said she has fielded a ton of calls on the situation.
She said when she first heard what happened, she couldn’t believe it because Timonet is an excellent student.
“We’ve got a lot of students who do cause trouble in our school system,” Dickerson said. We’ve got problems with bullying. We’ve got problems with vaping and drugs and kids with disciplinary actions. This is an amazing young lady. She was not on school time and was dancing. I’m not condoning the style of dance, but this is ridiculous. This is harsh and unfair.”
Dickerson admitted she’s had conversations with board members Jeffery Cox and Katelyn Lockhart Cockerham, who serve the Walker district. She’s also reached out to the administration.
“I have been inundated with calls from parents to teachers and principals from other parishes,” Dickerson recalled. “They said, ‘Come on, Livingston Parish, y’all are better than this.’ I have given my two cents to the Walker board members. School board members are not over principals or employees. I think this needs to be overturned. It’s a terrible ruling. I think it sets a terrible precedent.”
She said St. Pierre has done an ‘amazing’ job at Walker High, but this was a bad decision.
“I think there comes a time and a place for reprimanding our kids, but she’s an exemplary student,” Dickerson said. “I do not think her dancing after school at her home with her parents there is a problem. I have a problem with that. We’re not talking about causing harm to anyone. The child was dancing.
“I’m a Christian, I believe in morals, respect, and integrity, but we also cannot cross a line,” she added. “Kids have to be kids. Who am I to judge someone? However, I don’t think this is the appropriate action, in my humble opinion.”
Cox said Friday afternoon that he found out about the incident Thursday.
“I just found out about it yesterday,” he said in a conversation with UWK. “I’m just hearing something of it. I’m trying to talk to the principal an I haven’t spoken to the parents yet. I can’t really comment on it.”