Before allegations of inappropriate relationship with student, docs show educator on the rise

Before allegations of inappropriate relationship with student, docs show educator on the rise
Dawn Diimmler from a 2016 photo. (Source: Airport High School Facebook page)
Dawn Diimmler was granted a $30,000 personal recognizance bond. (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)
Dawn Diimmler was granted a $30,000 personal recognizance bond. (Source: Lexington County Detention Center)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Before allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a student that later blossomed into what she called "love," a former Airport High School administrator appeared to be on the rise in the education ranks.

Former Airport High School assistant principal Dawn Diimmler had higher ambitions before her career appears to have been cut short by the allegations, according to a Freedom of Information Act request for her personnel file at Lexington-Richland 5 School District.

In the FOIA response, LR5 spokeswoman Katrina Goggins provided a 159-page file that showed her work experience, applications to other jobs, and contracts she signed with the district. However, FOIA laws prevented her from releasing every document in Diimmler's file.

"The only documents not produced, consistent with the exemptions from FOIA, are copies of confidential employment references for Ms. Diimmler (all of which rated her as outstanding), a performance evaluation from the 2001-02 school year (which was positive), and a medical record," Goggins wrote.

Diimmler started with LR5 in 1999 and stayed with the district on and off while she pursued higher education and other job opportunities.

Diimmler's time at LR5 shows an educator with a positive outlook on her abilities to motivate and educate -- especially special needs children.

"My classroom is energetic, positive, and safe," Diimmler wrote on an April 20, 1999 application for the district. "My daily goal is to instill confidence in my students."

She left the district in 2000 on a sabbatical for one year to work on her master's degree, which she received in 2003. In 2002, she appears to have returned to teaching at Irmo Middle School.

"Ms. Diimmler has proven to be an excellent teacher as well as instructional assistant and tremendous asset to District Five," a memo from the district dated April 2002 said in regard to Diimmler's return from her continuing education efforts.

Diimmler soon left Irmo Middle to become the administrative assistant principal at Crossroads Middle School in 2003.

At Crossroads, she took on additional responsibilities that included being a sponsor for the academic quiz club and worked alongside the school's dance program. But Diimmler left Crossroads in 2007 to become LR5's district behavior specialist, an administrative role that helped train teachers in effective methods.

Diimmler wrote in her resignation letter to Crossroads administrators that she was grateful for the opportunities at the school, but she wanted to pursue a higher calling.

"I am currently looking for a job that will broaden my experience with the hopes of one day becoming a principal," she wrote.

She moved up again in 2009 as LR5's Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports coordinator, a role for which she stayed until accepting the assistant principal role at Pine Ridge in 2012.

Lexington Two personnel files show Diimmler moving further in her career as she applied for the Pine Ridge position. In her application, she lists four personal characteristics that define an "excellent administrator," such as displaying servant leadership, being a humble visionary, being helpful, and having integrity.

"Setting the example of one's educational and leadership philosophy," Diimmler wrote under her description for integrity. "Being able to set clear expectations as well as the details to meet them; being able to display grace when mistakes are made by oneself and encourage others to grow as mistakes are made by them."

Diimmler left Pine Ridge to accept the assistant principal position at Airport in 2016.

Allegations of a relationship with a 19-year-old student that began in 2017 put her under investigation by district officials in January 2018. Those allegations were escalated after district officials found a voicemail reportedly from Diimmler to the student's mother where she claimed to be in love with him.

Diimmler was terminated days later before she fell under investigation by the Cayce Department of Public Safety, who later charged her -- alongside the Columbia Police Department -- with sexual battery of a student.

She was freed by a Lexington County judge on a $30,000 cash surety bond.

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