The Bonner School superintendent, who in 2012 received an award for being the best school superintendent in western Montana, has been charged with partner-family member assault.
Doug Ardiana, 50, was arrested and charged for the alleged assault on March 31. According to court documents, he punched a member of his family multiple times in the face, "resulting in pain and injuries to the victim." The victim is a minor.
He pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge during his initial appearance April 1 in Missoula Municipal Court. Assistant City Judge Sam Warren ordered him not to have contact with the victim as a condition of his release from the Missoula County jail.
Later that day, Ardiana reappeared in court and asked the judge to drop the no-contact order. Warren denied that request.
When contacted by the Missoulian, Ardiana refused to comment about the allegations.
Ardiana has been superintendent of Bonner School for 12 years.
He was named western Montana’s outstanding superintendent for the 2011-12 year by the Montana Association of School Superintendents. He was also one of nine finalists for the statewide title.
Bonner school officials on Friday confirmed Ardiana had been placed on administrative leave with pay immediately after a special school board meeting held Monday night.
"He is on leave to deal with a personal matter," said Ashley Parks, elementary principal at the school.
Parks stressed that the board's decision is not one of discipline and that Ardiana's departure had nothing to do with the school or student safety.
Candace Hoppe, the school board's chairwoman, said Ardiana's right to privacy outweighs the public's right to know in this instance.
"Mr. Ardiana is not being disciplined in any way whatsoever. This is an issue of policy and personnel," Hoppe said.
Board members will further review the issue, but no timeline for doing so has been set, she said.
While Ardiana is gone, Parks will take on his responsibilities and is going above and beyond to make sure the school is running smoothly, Hoppe added.
Teachers are demonstrating a high level of professionalism and students continue to go about their routines, Parks said.
"The school is functioning absolutely the way we would expect," she said.
Ardiana is one of several officials from area schools who have been placed on administrative leave this academic year.
At Missoula County Public Schools, Sentinel High School Principal Tom Blakely and Assistant Principal Libby Oliver were placed on administrative leave in September, with Blakely ultimately resigning and Oliver being reassigned to Hellgate High School.
In November, C.S. Porter Middle School Assistant Principal Bob Gearheart was placed on administrative leave and later retired.
At Target Range School, Principal Luke Laslovich also was placed on administrative leave in November and soon after resigned.