SAN ANTONIO – Court records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders confirm the principal of Southside High School had a domestic violence conviction on his record and a pending theft charge in an unrelated case when he was hired by the district last summer.
Dr. Nathaniel Session was hired from Splendora Independent School District, northeast of Houston, in late June 2016, at an annual salary of $112,000.
District officials have confirmed Session has agreed to resign at the end of June, but so far have declined to discuss his vetting process, citing state employee privacy laws.
Session was convicted in Harris County of misdemeanor family assault in February 2013, four months after he was accused of attacking his then-wife inside their Katy home.
According to charging documents in the case, Session's then-wife was hospitalized after the incident with injuries to her ear, face and arm.
The woman told an investigator an intoxicated Session arrived home in late October 2012, proceeded to "urinate on her shoes" in a closet, "struck her on her head with his closed fist" when she told him to stop, continued to "assault her by dragging her and then stomping on her with his feet" and only ended the assault after she begged Session "not to kill her on their daughter's birthday."
In a plea deal signed with prosecutors, Session avoided jail time in exchange for one year probation, court costs and fines and random drug and alcohol screening.
Session was also required to make monthly payments to a Houston area women's shelter and complete a batterer intervention prevention program.
He completed the terms of his probation in March 2014.
Divorce records obtained by The Defenders through an open records request show Session's wife filed for divorce in August 2013 on the grounds of his "cruel treatment" of her.
The divorce was finalized in November 2014, according to the Harris County District Clerk's Office.
In an unrelated criminal case, Session was charged with misdemeanor theft in January 2016, after being accused of writing a hot check at a Houston-area Kroger grocery store.
Court records indicate Session posted bail on the charge last August, two months after he was hired by Southside.
The theft charge was dismissed in October, after Session paid restitution, according to Harris County court records.
"How's he going to influence kids with that background?" Southside parent Sabrina Herrera asked. "I think it's very pitiful. He's their mentor. He's supposed to teach them."
Members of the Southside community who spoke with the Defenders, including Herrera, questioned Session's hiring process and how he was allowed to keep his educator certificates after the family violence conviction.
Session's employer at the time of the case, Lamar Consolidated Independent School District, reported the assault charge to the state, but no sanctions were issued, according to a Texas Education Agency spokesperson.
A Southside spokesperson said all district employees go through a criminal background screening prior to being hired.
Session released the following statement via email:
It's unfortunate that things like this are dredged up, because they distract our wonderful students and community from the many great things we are doing at Southside High School. The only purpose airing this story would serve is to distract the campus from the important work of teaching and learning that occurs here every day. When I was hired, I was charged with making the school better as I have 10 years of successful experience as an administrator. I have been able to get things cleaned up, running smoothly, and we are on track to having a great year. I have however, held teachers and administrators accountable for student success. This has caused me to have an unfavorable image to some people. This story is irresponsible and unnecessary as I will not be working in Southside any longer. I will continue to work hard until the end of the school year to help our students continue to be successful.