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Franklin Township: Board member did not joke about sex offenders

Larry Walker is a member of the Franklin Township school board. (Photo by Franklin Township Community School Corporation via Mirror Indy)

(MIRROR INDY) — A Franklin Township school board member made a comment during a public meeting that a sexual violence awareness advocate is calling troubling and tone deaf.

Larry Walker, the board member who made the comment, declined to answer specific questions from Mirror Indy about what he meant by his comment, saying only his statement “had no meaning.”

A spokesperson for the school district, meanwhile, said the board member told district administration that his comment was referring to something else.

Still, Beth White, president and CEO of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking, said the comment, regardless of intent, should be taken seriously.

“Public officials in that context … have a responsibility to be careful about what they say,” White said. “Anything that could be misconstrued or misinterpreted is a problem.”

What did Larry Walker say?

In a Franklin Township school board meeting on May 20, administrators explained their proposal for new walk zones requiring some nearby students to walk to school rather than ride the bus.

An administrator talked about the sidewalk connections to nearby neighborhoods and said the affected schools were prepared to handle an uptick of car riders who choose not to walk. 

The administrator also suggested none of the walk zones would be near the homes of registered sex offenders.

“We checked the, uh, sexual predator listing things and all that looks good,” the administrator said, adding, “Unfortunately, we have to do things like that.”

That’s when Walker, the board member, spoke up.

“I live far enough away,” he said. 

And, without reacting, the board moved on with its business.

What is Franklin Township’s response?

When contacted by Mirror Indy on May 23, Walker first said he would not comment because of his distrust of the media.

“You’ll just print whatever you want to print and if you print it wrong, I’ll sue you,” he said, before adding, “I said ‘I live far enough away.’ That is just a statement. It meant nothing. It had no meaning.”

He later went on to say, “If I thought it was inappropriate, I wouldn’t have said it.”

Walker is one of five members of the Franklin Township school board. He represents the southeast side of the district and is listed online as the president and CEO of Timberwood Custom Homes, a local homebuilding and real estate company.

Walker is serving in his third term on the Franklin Township board, according to a letter he shared with Mirror Indy after this story’s initial publication. In his most recent race, he ran unchallenged and was reelected to the board in 2022. His business’ website says that Walker is a past vice president and treasurer of the Franklin Township Education Foundation and was twice appointed to the Indianapolis Board of Zoning Appeals, once in 1997 and again in 2008.

His name does not appear in local or national sex offender databases.

Hours after Walker’s comments to Mirror Indy, a Franklin Township schools spokesperson responded to a Mirror Indy request with a provided statement.

“At the May school board meeting, Mr. Walker commented during a discussion on walking zones about the lack of sidewalks and connecting sidewalks in Franklin Township,” the emailed statement reads. “When the discussion moved on, he made a final comment about living too far away for a sidewalk. According to Mr. Walker, who speaks for himself, he was referring to sidewalks, and unfortunately, his comment did not match the current conversation.” 

While Walker raised the question of sidewalk connectivity to schools earlier in the meeting, the board had moved onto other issues — such as crossing guards and parent communication — before a district administrator mentioned checking the sex offender registry. 

And it wasn’t until then that Walker made his comment about living “far enough away.”

When asked for clarification, the spokesperson followed up in an email to say Franklin Township school officials had discussed it with the board member.

“What we can say is that in our conversation with Mr. Walker regarding his comment that ‘I live far enough away,’ he said it referred back to sidewalks and that he lives far enough away that the city would not install them,” the spokesperson wrote.

‘Inappropriate and misplaced’

White, who found Walker’s comments problematic, said she felt the district’s statement came as a misplaced effort to minimize what their board member said.

“That kind of comment coming from anyone is troubling, but a leader in the school context is particularly disappointing,” White said. “Because, of course, the school board member who seeks that office, either elected or appointed, should have always the frame of reference that protecting our children is the most important thing.” 

Child sex abuse is more common than most people realize, White said, adding that school officials should be especially aware of the effects of their words on survivors of abuse. 

One in four girls and one in six boys are likely to experience sexual abuse before they turn 18, according to statistics from the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking

White encouraged anyone struggling with or seeking seeking resources for handling issues of sexual violence to contact RAINN’s National Sexual Assualt Hotline at 800-656-4673. The organization also supports an online chat service available at

“Even comments that were intended to be innocuous but could be interpreted to be a joke or making light of the seriousness of the issue,” White said, “are inappropriate and misplaced.”

The Franklin Township school board is scheduled to next meet on June 24, according to the district’s website. Notes from the board’s May 20 meeting are available on the Indianapolis Documenters website.

Mirror Indy reporter Carley Lanich covers early childhood and K-12 education. Contact her at or follow her on X @carleylanich.

A correction to this story was made on June 3, 2024. An earlier version of this story misstated when Larry Walker was first elected to the Franklin Township school board.