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LIZTON, Ind. — Tyler Bruce has been fired. He is the former Tri-West High School teacher accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a female student in 2019.

The Northwest Hendricks School Board voted unanimously to terminate Bruce at a board meeting in late-March. That decision came several months after the exact opposite happened soon after the accusations against Bruce came to light in May 2019.

The board originally said they legally could not fire Bruce because he hadn’t been convicted of any crime. Soon after that hearing, former North West Hendricks superintendent Mike Springer, who made the recommendation to fire Bruce, resigned saying the working relationship between him and the board had become “adversarial” and “unhealthy.”

“The fact that they said they couldn’t legally fire him because he hadn’t been convicted was not a justified response,” Springer said. “The preponderance of evidence to terminate him was there.”

Preponderance of evidence, which in the legal realm, is a standard of evidence that states there is a greater than 50-percent chance that a claim against a defendant is true.

Eight months later the board voted the same way to fire Bruce.

“What I would assume is they presented the exact same evidence (in March 2020) as we did in July 2019,” he said. “The only thing the board would know now that they didn’t know before is a probable cause affidavit used in (Bruce’s) arrest that said he destroyed his SIM card.”

During that eight-month period, Bruce was charged with child solicitation and obstruction of justice. He’s awaiting trial and has still not been convicted of any crime.

The accusations were first reported to the Department of Child Services in May 2019.

“I learned of the DCS call on May 22,” said Springer. “The call alleged inappropriate SnapChat messaging between Mr. Bruce and a female student.”

Springer said Bruce had been the subject of discussions between him and then principal Adam Benner months prior to the DCS report. Springer said the nature of the previous discussion was only for a misuse of prep time.

“On February 8, it was reported to me that Mr. Bruce was providing an ‘extra track workout’ every day to a female track athlete during the last period of the day, which was his prep time,” he said. “The person who made that report said she didn’t believe anything inappropriate was happening.”

Springer expressed his concern to Benner that the workout was not an appropriate use of prep time and directed him to put it to an end. However, through a QuickTips link on the schools’ website, Springer said it appeared as though Mr. Benner had not put an end to the workouts and rumors were beginning to surface about an inappropriate relationship between Bruce and the student

The QuickTips, which were only accessed by specific TWHS staff at the time, were detailed in a memo from Benner and athletic director Nathan Begle. When Springer said he asked for clarification on the memo, Benner said he and Begle had thoroughly investigated the rumors and dismissed them as an exaggeration of the two being seen alone together in the weight room.

Springer talking about the timeline of events:

Three months later, the DCS report was filed by Tri-West’s attendance secretary David Pyatt who said he learned of inappropriate SnapChats between Bruce and the student from a conversation with the Tri-West Dean of Students Stacey Begle, Nathan Begle’s wife.

“It was pretty clear to me at that point that there were some things that hadn’t been told to me and there were some people lying to me,” Springer said.

Months later Pyatt released surveillance footage of the female student in Tyler Bruce’s office.

Springer on once he learned of the DCS report:

Once he learned about the DCS report, Springer said he started an internal investigation and gathered enough evidence to warrant a recommendation to the school board that Bruce be terminated. The board instead placed Bruce on leave.

The board would not fire Bruce until March of 2020, two months after Bruce was charged.

Nathan and Stacey Begle are on administrative leave now as well. Adam Benner resigned as principal and was subsequently charged with failing to report child abuse by a teacher.