Indiana wants to suspend 3 teachers for failing to report teacher-student ‘secret relationship’

Indiana wants to suspend 3 teachers for failing to report teacher-student ‘secret relationship’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Three teachers could have their licenses suspended after the Indiana Department of Education claims they failed to report allegations that a Tri-West High School teacher-coach had an inappropriate relationship with a student.

In complaints filed Thursday, the department recommended suspending the license of former Tri-West principal Adam Benner for three years and asked for two-year suspensions for Stacey Begle, Tri-West dean of students, and her husband, Nathan Begle, the school’s athletic director.

The Department of Education’s filings allege all three were aware of claims that math teacher and coach Tyler Bruce, 31, was “in a secret relationship of a sexual nature” with a female student and did not tell law enforcement or the state Department of Child Services.

Benner stepped down as principal in June. He worked as a science teacher at Lynhurst 7th & 8th Grade Center in Wayne Township Schools. It was not immediately clear when he began teaching there. He resigned Feb. 14, according to Wayne Township Schools.

Stacey Begle and Nathan Begle each were placed on administrative leave in July. According to the district, they returned to work during the 2019-2020 school year. Both were placed on administrative leave again Friday in response to the Department of Education recommendations.

According to the Department of Education, an administrative law judge assigned to the complaints will make a final determination after a hearing has taken place.

An attorney for the family of the student said in statement, “To say that Northwest Hendricks County School Corporation’s handling of this matter is poor is a gross understatement at best.”

Tyler Bruce was arrested on Jan. 28, 2020, and charged with two counts of child seduction and a count of obstruction of justice. (Photo Provided/Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office)

Bruce was placed on paid administrative leave May 28 after the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Child Services began investigating an anonymous tip about him.

During a July 29 meeting, school board members voted unanimously to reject an administrative recommendation to terminate Bruce’s contract. The district had argued Bruce had not been charged with a crime.

The family of a student who said she was harassed by Bruce filed a tort claim Aug. 6 accusing him of “multiple incidents of child molestation and abuse” between January and May, during the student’s junior year. It also claimed the district failed to properly screen and monitor Bruce and negligently retained him as an employee.

A September Department of Education complaint seeking to revoke Bruce’s teaching license alleged he “committed acts that involve immorality, misconduct in office, incompetency, and/or willful neglect of duty.”

The complaint said Bruce became involved with a female student who was in his math class and she interacted with him outside school hours as a coach’s aide. He asked the girl to use Snapchat to communicate with him “after his wife went to bed” because that way “there would not be proof.”

The girl sent naked photos of herself to Bruce after he repeatedly asked for them and threatened her grades. He also asked her to work out with him alone after school, encouraging her “to take ice baths after sporting events.” He would stay while she took the baths and ask her to remove some of her clothes. He also told the girl “she was too shy around him,” according to the Department of Education complaint.

The complaint states that Bruce on separate occasions touched the girl on the back, stomach, butt and pubic area.

The allegations against Bruce led to an acrimonious atmosphere between the public school district, its leadership and many people in the community. 

Michael Springer retired from his job as the district’s superintendent in October. His departure was announced amid months of community controversy over the school board’s decision to keep Bruce on the job, against Springer’s termination recommendation.

Bruce was arrested in January and charged with two counts of child seduction and a count of obstruction of justice. The day after his arrest, North West Hendricks schools announced he was suspended without pay and that it intended to cancel his contract and terminate his employment.

Bruce’s next hearing is scheduled for March 11.