LIZTON, Ind. — Public comment was prohibited at Tuesday night’s Northwest Hendricks School Board meeting as the fall out continues from the accusations of an inappropriate relationship between a student and a teacher at Tri-West High School.
The meeting opened as normal with the passage of some housekeeping resolutions and even a brief performance from the school’s drama club to promote their upcoming school play. But quickly turned sour when the board’s attorney, Terry Kessinger, read a statement on behalf of the board.
“Under the state’s open door law, school boards are required to hold meetings which the public has the right to attend,” Kessinger read. “Public comment is always part of these meetings. But the board has determined that (tonight) public comment is not conducive to an orderly and productive meeting.”
After reading that statement the board quickly adjourned leaving the hundreds of people who showed up to the meeting upset and frustrated.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Donna Lapadat, a resident of Hendricks County, to WISH-TV. “I think they’re cowards and they are not listening.”
“They can do that but it’s not going to silence us,” Cody Brunes added. “They keep making the community more frustrated.”
Members of the community want to know why the board continues to allow Tyler Bruce to be employed by the district. Bruce is accused of child seduction and obstruction of justice in regard to a possible inappropriate relationship he was having with a female student at Tri-West.
Many have called for Bruce to be fired, but the board unanimously voted to retain Bruce back in a July hearing against the recommendation of then-superintendent Mike Springer. Bruce was placed on unpaid leave and the board maintains they can’t legally fire him because he as not been convicted of any crimes yet.
“We understand that people are frustrated,” said Donna Petraits, a communication consultant for the board. “The board is frustrated too, but their hands are tied in a lot of ways.”
The Tri-West dean of students, Stacey Begle, and her husband and athletic director, Nathan Begle, are on leave as well for their roles in the ordeal. The Indiana Department of Education has requested their teaching licenses be suspended saying they knew about the relationship and failed to immediately report it.
Another student protest is expected today. Last week students walked out of school during a regularly scheduled fire drill. That was a protest against the firing of David Pyatt, the Tri-West attendance secretary who first reported the accusations against Bruce to the Department of Child Services.
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