Bonner School Superintendent Doug Ardiana, who was placed on paid administrative leave last month, was reinstated after a special school board meeting Thursday night.

Board member Michele Mitchell confirmed trustees voted to reinstate Ardiana, but directed further questions to chairwoman Candace Hoppe. 

Hoppe said she couldn't discuss the issue that led to Ardiana being placed on leave, but that the board took time to gather information and evaluate the situation before reinstating him.

Board members also received a letter from the Bonner Education Association, the local teachers' union, expressing confidence in Ardiana and asking trustees to reinstate him.

“With all the information we were able to gather, we were unanimous in our vote to reinstate him and unanimous in our confidence for Ardiana to be an effective educator and leader for the school,” Hoppe said.

Ardiana was placed on leave April 6 after being arrested and charged with partner-family member assault 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.

Ardiana pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge at a court appearance April 1. His next hearing on the assault charge is scheduled for June 15, according to a clerk at Missoula Municipal Court.

Ardiana has been the superintendent at Bonner for 12 years, and in 2012 received an award for being the best superintendent in western Montana by the Montana Association of School Superintendents.

On Friday, Ardiana termed his reinstatement a “board decision” and would not comment on how the charges will affect his leadership at Bonner School, which has classes running until June 5, saying it will be “business as usual.”

“That is my personal business and I’m trying to be professional in my work,” he said.


Ardiana was one of several officials from area schools to be 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 later 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.

And last month, Frenchtown High School teacher and coach Michael Botsford resigned after being put on administrative leave.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.