LIZTON, Ind. — Just days after the Indiana Department of Education filed a complaint against Tri West football coach Tyler Bruce, parents packed into Tuesday night's school board meeting.
The complaint seeks to revoke the teacher of his teaching license, accusing him of “immoral acts” and a “neglect of duty” over accusations he sent inappropriate messages to a female student and also touched her on multiple occasions.
The employment of Bruce was not on the agenda for the meeting, but dozens of people still showed up to either defend him or speak out against him.
"As far as I'm concerned, you all oughta be ashamed, every one of ya," said one man during public comment to the board, upset the teacher is still on paid leave instead of being fired.
It’s the first school board meeting since the complaint was filed on Friday. The complaint details accusations that Bruce asked an underage female student to send naked pictures over the app snapchat, and says he threatened her grades if she didn't comply. The complaint also accuses the coach of touching her inappropriately. Bruce denies any wrongdoing.
The mother of the alleged victim spoke at the meeting.
"This is extremely frustrating," said the alleged victim's mother. "It's an awful experience to start with and even worse that it hasn't been taken care of.”
Earlier this year, the board unanimously decided not to fire Bruce, and he has not yet been charged with a crime.
The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department says the investigation is still underway, and supporters of the coach say until then, action should wait.
"I support your decision based on the fact that there have been no charges against Mr. Bruce," said one woman during public comment. "Not through Hendricks County Sheriff's Department, not through Child Protective Services. We can all slap lawsuits on everybody in this room if we want to, but if we do not have proof to support it we do not win it.”
Others in attendance, including former players, also came to the coach’s defense.
"I’ve had Tyler Bruce as a teacher, coach, and a friend, and he’s been one of the most influential people in my life," said another commenter. "I think he’s one of the most genuine people I've ever met and he continues to be influential in my life every day.”
Now it’s up to the state superintendent to decide whether Bruce will be suspended or have his license revoked. As they wait that decision, the family is happy to have others standing by their side.
"It was great to start to see the community support out there that people are realizing what the situation is and they're getting behind it and they’re requesting accountability from our school board that hasn’t been there before,” said Lewis. "The ideal end result is to make sure that every child who goes to the Northwest School Corporation is safe going forward."
There’s no timeline on when or if charges will be filed against Bruce. The teacher and coach has been on paid leave. The family has also filed a lawsuit against the school district.