North West Hendricks superintendent leaving over dispute with school board

Tri-West High School (WTHR)
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LIZTON, Ind. (WTHR) — Tense moments Tuesday inside the North West Hendricks School board meeting.

​Parents, educators and community members say Superintendent Michael Springer was forced to resign. ​

​"He was doing his job and unfortunately, they voted him out and that is just so wrong," said Cody Brunes. ​

​Springer had disagreements with the board after he recommended Tri-West varsity football coach and math teacher Tyler Bruce be fired over claims he molested and abused a 17-year-old girl. The board unanimously voted to deny that recommendation. ​

The North West Hendricks School Corporation thanked Springer in a statement released Wednesday morning:

"We are grateful for his service to our school corporation over the past couple of years. As evidenced in our 2019 ILearn state assessment scores, Mission/Vision/Strategic Plan, and enhancements to our facilities, our Superintendent played an integral role. We appreciate his service to our school community and wish him the best in his future endeavors."

The release went on to say current Business Manager David J. Hobaugh will assume the roles and responsibilities of the Superintendent's position for the immediate future while looking for an interim Superintendent for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

​The board got an earful during a public comment session.​

​"All of you should be ashamed," said Kathy Frederick-Caldwell. "Every one of you needs to resign. Do what Mr. Springer did. Come forward. Resign. Let us get a brand new group of people in that will do something."​

​The teen's parents say the abuse allegedly began in March, but they didn't know anything about it until the Department of Child Services called in May. They say the school corporation failed to protect their daughter. ​

​The Hendricks County Sheriff's Office began an investigation after receiving an anonymous tip May 12. According to the tort claim, the investigation began after a school resource officer reported inappropriate interaction between Bruce and the girl. The tort claim also states ​Tri-West High School received an anonymous call in March about Bruce and the girl working out alone. Bruce was put on administrative leave. In June, investigators say they found no criminal activity.​

​In August, Bruce’s attorney, Josh Adair, said in a statement:​

“Coach Bruce completely denies the allegations. We do not intend to try this case in the court of public opinion, and we have no further comment at this time.” ​

​In September, the Indiana Department of Education began looking into the claims against Bruce and deciding on whether his teaching license should be revoked. ​

​According to the complaint, the teen was in Bruce's math class and acted as a coach's aide after school. The complaint alleges Bruce communicated with her via SnapChat and requested she provide photos of herself. She complied "after his repeated requests and threats that her grades would be impacted if she didn't."​

School board members did not address the crowd during the meeting.

RELATED: Family speaks out about Tri-West coach accused of molesting, abusing their daughter

​"Since we have lived through the #MeToo movement, what kind of example are you setting for young girls and the girls currently in the high school," said one parent.​

​Others couldn't hold back tears.​

​"What is sad about all of this is that I work in an environment now that none of this is resolved. Maybe you don't know the truth. What is hard is to see the place I work at is going through this and that no one is taking a stand to try and resolve it. It just looks like we're just shoving it under the rug," said Lori Fulks, an instructional aide.​

​Bruce has not been criminally charged. ​

Springer will be leaving after coming to a severance agreement with the school board.

That agreement was voted on at Tuesday's board meeting.

"The Board of Trustees and I have agreed to separate. They are acting on that agreement at tonight's board meeting," said Superintendent Michael Springer in a statement to Eyewitness News.

    Just last month, the board also denied Springer's recommendation that the dean of students and the athletic director have their contracts terminated.

    The board allowed the athletic director and the dean of students to be reinstated. Coach Bruce has been placed on paid administrative leave and remains under investigation.

    Coach Bruce remains under criminal investigation and is being investigated by DCS.

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