Despite dismissal of an assault charge, an Elmore Academy employee has been fired.
On Monday in Faribault County District Court, an attorney for the city of Elmore dropped one count of fifth-degree assault against Frank Jude Halupka.
"It was dismissed at the city's discretion. I have no other comment," says Ryan Gustafson of Frundt & Johnson law firm in Blue Earth.
The move caught defense attorney Brad Peyton of Mankato off guard.
Monday's hearing was scheduled as a pre-trial for the 29-year-old Halupka.
"I had no inkling that is what they were going to do. I was ready to ask them what their next move was going to be," says Peyton.
Gustafson wouldn't say whether he discussed the case with county prosecutors before making his decision.
County Attorney Troy Timmerman also had no comment regarding the city's action or whether his office is planning to file charges.
"They might be sending the case to the county attorney for charges. I don't know what they are going to do," says Peyton. "A lot of times for a higher charge it goes to the county attorney first."
From the beginning the case was baffling to another defense attorney, Bill Grogin of Fairmont.
Last March, Grogin publicly spoke out against the growing incidences of violence involving students against students, and between staff members and students.
Yet, the court appointed Grogin to represent Halupka.
That's when the defense attorney began e-mailing the Public Defender's Office in Mankato, requesting he be taken off the case.
"I have been a persistent and vocal critic of YSI, so I took immediate steps," he says. "I felt it was inappropriate to represent any of their staff members."
Jesse Williams of Youth Services International, the parent company of Elmore Academy, says Halupka was fired for violating company policy.
"Once we had a chance to discuss the particulars it was determined there was a violation of company policy," he says. "We weren't making a decision because of any investigations or charges."
Williams says he cannot confirm the status of a state Department of Human Services investigation.
Court records show an Elmore police officer cited Halupka with fifth-degree assault after investigating an incident at Elmore Academy involving several students arguing when it turned into a fight.
Halupka allegedly put one of the students into a "neutral restraint" when he did not listen after being told to sit down and be quiet.
The boy reportedly sustained several injuries to his face while being put on the ground.
A video reportedly shows Halupka putting the student in a "neutral restraint" from a standing position after what appears to be a verbal argument between the two.