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North West Hendricks Schools Superintendent resigns amid coach controversy

Mike Springer has been superintendent at NWHSC since 2017
Posted at 10:41 AM, Oct 08, 2019

HENDRICKS COUNTY — The superintendent of the North West Hendricks School Corporation resigned Tuesday, according to Call 6 sources.

Michael Springer was named superintendent in 2017, and his contract was not set to expire until June 2020, records show.

The school board approved the severance agreement for Springer at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.

You can watch the school board meeting here:

Springer declined to provide a reason to RTV6 but said his departure would be discussed at the meeting.

The district has 1,900 students, records show.

Springer and the school board have been at odds over the handling of Tri-West High School football coach Tyler Bruce.

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Bruce is accused of sexual misconduct with a student and remains on paid administrative leave, pending the outcome of a criminal investigation.

Bruce denies any misconduct, and he has not been criminally charged.

Superintendent Mike Springer recommended the board terminate Bruce, however, the board decided to keep Bruce on staff.

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The superintendent also recommended the board terminate the teaching contracts for athletic director Nathan Begle and dean of students Stacey Begle for how they handled the Bruce allegations, however, the board voted to allow the Begles to return to their positions.

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The Begles were placed on administrative leave in July in connection with the Tyler Bruce case.

Some have criticized school staff for failing to report the allegations involving Bruce appropriately.

The board explained its decision to keep the Begles on staff in a statement to RTV6:

“The board members voted based on the preponderance of the evidence delivered at the employees’ requested conference with the school board, including administrators and representatives,” read the statement. “The board members recommended to our administration for the employees to be removed from paid administrative leave and return to their previous employment status. Based on communication form our school board attorney, our school board is NOT aware of any investigation by the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department, or other state, county, and local agencies regarding these two employees.”

Call 6 Investigates spoke with Stacy and Mark Lewis of North Salem after they filed a tort claim on August 6 against North West Hendricks County School Corporation on behalf of their daughter, who is now 17-years-old and a senior at Tri-West High School.

The tort claim alleges Tyler Bruce requested the teen to be his aide during the 2018-2019 school year and asked to exercise together in the weight room at Tri-West High School.

Bruce exchanged inappropriate messages with Stacy's daughter late at night on Snapchat, and touched her under her clothing on several occasions, according to the tort claim.

Jeff Gibson, an attorney for Stacy, released the following statement regarding the resignation of the superintendent:
"As a result of a thorough investigation of allegations involving Tyler Bruce, Mr. Springer recommended that the school board terminate the contract of Mr. Bruce. Mr. Springer also recommended termination of the contracts of the Dean of Students and Athletic Director for their failure to protect my client from Mr. Bruce. Ignoring the findings of Mr. Springer’s investigation and recommendation, the school board voted to retain Tyler Bruce, the Athletic Director, and the Dean of Students. While Mr. Bruce remains on paid leave at the expense of the taxpayers, the Athletic Director and Dean of Students have been fully restored to their position. The board’s insistence to ignore Mr. Springer at every turn is disappointing at best. Mr. Springer’s actions showed concern for the students at Tri-West, the same cannot be said for the school board."

The Indiana Department of Education has filed a formal complaint against Bruce's teaching license.

"Coach Bruce completely denies the allegations," read the statement from Bruce's attorney. "We do not intend to try this case in the court of public opinion, and we have no further comment at this time."

Concerned citizens have also pushed the school board and district to change its policies to protect children better.

The North West Hendricks School board told RTV6 it is evaluating its protocols.

The school board released the following statement on the superintendent's departure:
"On Tuesday, October 8, 2019, the NWHSC School Board accepted the resignation and approved the severance agreement with our Superintendent. 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.
Our Business Manager will assume the roles and responsibilities of the Superintendent’s position for the immediate future. Our school board will be planning accordingly for an interim Superintendent for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. In addition, our school board will be actively recruiting over the next several months for the next Superintendent of the NWHSC. We appreciate the support of our students, teachers, staff, parents, and school community as we lead the response to these personnel decisions."