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Residents voice concerns over sexual misconduct allegations at North West Hendricks board meeting

Posted: 10:44 PM, Nov 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-11-13 18:36:39-05
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HENDRICKS COUNTY — Community members voiced their concerns Tuesday night to the North West Hendricks School Board over their handling of sexual misconduct allegations involving a teacher and a coach.

The school board allowed one hour for the public to come up and ask questions or comment on different issues.

For more than an hour and a half, some community members asked for some school board members to step down.

"Immediately resign from your positions and allow for a new school board and restablish integrity and confidence in our community," Sherry Gunn said.

Most of the public comments were related to Tyler Bruce, a teacher and coach, was accused of sexual misconduct involving a student.

Public comment session from North West Hendricks School Board meeting

PREVIOUS | School board admits "oversight" in allowing relative to vote on teacher | Outgoing superintendent to receive $116K in compensation | School board decides Tri-West employees can return to school | Hendricks County parents question school board over handling of sexual assault allegations

Call 6 Investigates uncovered the board allowed one of Bruce’s family members, board member Brad Williams, to vote on Bruce’s employment status.

The board called it an “oversight,” but it’s not sitting well with people who say it’s a clear conflict of interest.

"All these oversights that you guys talk about, are there any more?" Tiffany Matthews, a concerned citizen said. "I don't feel safe sending my kids to school because I don't trust anybody in this school system."

After the meeting, Call 6 Investigates asked board member Brad Williams if it was appropriate to vote on a matter involving his nephew.

He declined to respond.

Call 6 Investigates also asked for Williams response to some citizens’ calls for him to resign, and he told RTV6 he doesn’t plan to step down.

Call 6 Investigates also asked board president Jim Diagostino if he plans to resign.

“Talk to our communications director,” Diagostino said.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, the board approved the district spending $750 per day on a public relations consultant to help improve transparency and bring positive attention to the district.

“We want transparency from every single one of you,” said Cody Brunes, a concerned citizen. “If you can't provide that, get out and resign and let somebody do it that can provide those things and speak at a board meeting when somebody talks to you."

Although some board members did answer a few questions, the board members mostly remained silent during public comment and did not answer most questions.

"The school board has chosen to look past the facts and guarantee that their buddies stay in our school system, Kristi Vaugh, a concerned parent, said. "Not your school system. OUR school system."

The district is expected to post answers to some of the questions in the FAQ section of their website.

Some teachers and staff members were at the meeting to express their support for the board and district.

"It's especially unfortunate for people in our community to treat staff, teachers and board members with total disrespect," Amanda Wiley, a teacher for the district, said. "Indiana is currently experiencing a teacher shortage. If you think you can do better, feel free to get your license and experience it from the other side."

On Wednesday, the district provided Interim Superintendent M. Scott Syverson's statement from the meeting:

I want to say thanks to everyone for such a warm welcome welcome to the community. It has been a real privilege to meet so many new people and see first-hand the support in the community for our schools and students. Before beginning my first official board meeting, there are some thoughts I'd like to share with you.

As the interim superintendent it is my responsibility to lead the district into the future. I did not walk into this position blindly. I was well aware of what make North West Hendricks Schools special — the community, the parents, the staff, the administrators and the board all work together every day to provide the best possible education for our children. We work hard at North West Hendricks School Corporation to provide a strong academic program for our students. We can't do this work alone.

I am also very aware of recent issues that have caused members of this community great concern, and I am certain we can move past this and be stronger than ever. That doesn't happen without effort, without transparency and without communication. To that end, we have been working to be more proactive in providing regular and accurate information through our social media and our corporation website. It is easy for rumor and misinformation to spread when accurate information isn't available. I encourage you to check the FAQ page and submit questions about things regarding North West Hendricks Schools. Submit a question and we will respond with the best information available.

In response to community requests, our school board members have elected to suspend the usual two-minute time limit policy at the end of business this evening for those who wish to speak to the board. Please be sure you sign up if that's your intention.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for Dec. 10.