Traverse City Record-Eagle

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September 18, 2013

Frankfort principal on leave

TRAVERSE CITY — Frankfort High School's principal is on a leave of absence as his wife stands accused of trying to kill her autistic teenage daughter.

Matt Stapleton's paid administrative leave began Tuesday, two weeks after his daughter, Issy, and his wife Kelli Stapleton were found unconscious inside a van parked at a remote location. Authorities said Kelli Stapleton tried to kill herself and her daughter by igniting two charcoal grills inside the enclosed vehicle.

Kelli Stapleton is being held without bond in Benzie County's jail on an attempted murder charge.

Matt Stapleton and school district officials would not say which party requested the two-week paid absence. Matt Stapleton said he'll focus on Issy's transition from the hospital and on his other children during the time off.

"This is just me taking some time off to focus on my kids," he said. "This is what I should be doing."

Tom Stobie, superintendent of Frankfort-Elberta Area Schools, said Matt Stapleton has not worked full time since the alleged murder-suicide attempt. He is expected to return to work following the two-week leave, Stobie said.

School Board President Troy Terwilliger said the board is aware Matt Stapleton is on a short-term, non-disciplinary leave, although the board did not meet to discuss the matter.

“Because it’s of a personnel nature, I won’t comment further,” he said.

Kelli Stapleton maintained a blog, "The Status Woe," that detailed her experiences raising Issy, an intelligent but abusive autistic child.

One blog post — dated the same day authorities found Kelli Stapleton and Issy unconscious in the van — recounted a supposedly volatile series of meetings with a teacher and school officials as Issy prepared to start classes at the school where her father is principal.

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