PHOENIX – The principal of an Arizona elementary school with ties to Central Texas has been arrested after he allegedly solicited underage girls online to go skinny dipping at his home.
Karl Judd Waggoner was a also principal and assistant principal for Eanes ISD, Austin ISD and Round Rock ISD for a combined 20 years.
Waggoner, 59, was arrested after an undercover sting in which a Pinal County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Office detective posed as a 14-year-old girl online after spotting an ad from Waggoner. PCSO said in a release that “During the course of the investigation, Waggoner engaged in sexually inappropriate conversations, discussed engaging in sexual acts with our undercover detective and provide sexually explicit photos.”
Apache Junction Unified School District said on its website that Waggoner started with the district in July, and that the district “complied with all legal requirements for conducting a background check prior to recommending for hire.” The district also posted the letter that was sent home with Four Peaks students on Tuesday:
There is some information that I would like to share with you as our partner in education. Early this morning, Karl Waggoner, the Principal at Four Peaks Elementary School, was arrested by the Pinal County Sheriff's (sic) Office as part of a criminal investigation.
The Apache Junction Unified School District is cooperating with law enforcement agencies as they investigate the matter. In Mr. Waggoner's absence, Chad Cantrell, the Assistant Principal at Cactus Canyon Junior High, and the District's Athletic Director, will serve as the acting Principal. Mr. Cantrell is a well-respected educator, administrator, and member of the community and will provide excellent leadership to students and staff.
Mr. Waggoner is a recent hire who relocated from Texas. Prior to offering Mr. Waggoner his position the District conducted all background checks required by law and found no prior arrests or criminal history.
The District is committed to the safety and well-being of our students. Each school has a behavior coach/counselor onsite that is available to students, and we encourage students to reach out to their counselor as needed. Although we have no reason to believe that Mr. Waggoner engaged in any improper conduct with District students, should you or your child have any information that you believe will assist the Pinal County Sheriff's office with its investigation, please directly contact the Sheriff's office, at (520) 866-5111.
Waggoner is no longer with Four Peaks Elementary School.
Eanes ISD said he worked for the district for nearly two decades ending in 2013, including as an assistant principal at Hill Country Middle School, principal at West Ridge Middle School and assistant principal at Westlake High School.
"At no time during his approximately 18 years in Eanes ISD was there any indication of inappropriate behavior with students," the district said. "Prior to his hire, he passed all criminal background checks. As a cautionary measure, however, we ask any current or former students to contact Eanes ISD Human Resources if they have information that could lead to an investigation related to Mr. Waggoner's time in our schools."
Sara Ullman, who has two children in Eanes ISD, said she is shocked by the news.
"It's just appalling. It makes me scared for my children. It makes me worry about the school district, what they're putting into vetting these people that are suppose to take care of our kids," said Ullman.
Brian Smith is also a parent who lives in Eanes ISD. His two children are now grown.
"We want to make sure we get all the evidence, make sure we look at the facts and where the facts are coming from, particularly the sources because not every source I feel is reliable," Smith said.
Austin ISD confirmed to KVUE that Waggoner worked as the assistant principal at Anderson High during the 2013-14 school year. AISD added "there were no disciplinary actions while he was employed with Austin ISD."
Round Rock ISD said he worked as principal at Hopewell Middle School from 2014-16, and is sending the following letter home to parents and guardians Wednesday:
Dear Hopewell and Stony Point parents, students and staff,
Safety is the top priority of Hopewell Middle School, Stony Point High School and Round Rock ISD and, while we are writing to share troubling news, we want to assure you that we have no reason to believe your child has been harmed or put at risk.
Last night we learned of the recent arrest in Arizona of former Hopewell principal Karl Waggoner. Mr. Waggoner, who served as principal from 2014-2016, faces charges of luring a minor for sexual exploitation and misrepresenting his age. Mr. Waggoner left the Hopewell campus in August 2016 prior to the beginning of the school year. He requested a reassignment and was given a position at central administration as associate director of administrative projects. Mr. Waggoner left Round Rock ISD earlier this year and had recently been hired as principal of Four Peaks Elementary School in Apache Junction, Arizona when the arrest occurred.
News such as this is certainly upsetting to us all and we want to emphasize to our parents, students and staff that we have no indication that Mr. Waggoner engaged in inappropriate conduct with students while employed by Round Rock ISD or in his previous employment. Mr. Waggoner, who previously worked in Eanes and Austin Independent School Districts, had decades of experience in Texas public schools and no prior arrests or criminal history when hired by Round Rock ISD.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, or if you have any information that could lead to an investigation related to Mr. Waggoner’s time at RRISD, please do not hesitate to contact Mario De La Rosa, RRISD's director of safety and security, at email@example.com.
Providing a safe learning environment for students is vitally important and foundational to the mission of Round Rock ISD. As a reminder, RRISD encourages anyone who has information of possible wrongdoing or inappropriate behavior to immediately contact a campus administrator, utilize the RRISD Anonymous Alerts program, or contact law enforcement.
The Anonymous Alerts program allows students or parents to submit safety concerns quickly to school officials for prompt intervention. All messages submitted remain completely anonymous. Please visit roundrockisd.org/anonymousalerts/ for more details.
Superintendent of Schools Steve Flores, Ph.D.
Hopewell Principal Lynda Garinger
Stony Point Principal Anthony Watson
Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb said in a release that Waggoner was posting ads online up to the weekend before his arrest. "Waggoner held a position of trust, spending decades educating middle and high school students in Texas. We are working with those law enforcement agencies to see if there are any victims out there. Considering the evidence, we are grateful we were able to arrest Waggoner and keep him from victimizing children in our county," Lamb said.
The release from PCSO said Waggoner "has made admissions to our investigators as to his involvement in this case," but did not say what those admissions were. Online records at the Pinal County Jail state Waggoner has been charged with luring a minor for sexual exploitation, and is being held on $100,000 bond.