MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Ind. — The superintendent of the South Montgomery Community School Corporation has officially resigned from his position.
In a special meeting Thursday morning, board members voted unanimously to accept. But, Chad Cripe hasn’t publicly given a reason for stepping down.
The board room was packed in anticipation of the final vote.
“Cripe will leave your school district broke and heartbroken. That’s pretty gut-wrenching,” one woman said during a public comment.
Some people, including former employees of the district, voiced their disapproval of Cripe’s term during public comment.
“Overall, I think that our community has been hurt by Dr. Cripe and his leadership,” one woman said.
Accountability was missing in this district from the top to the bottom,” another woman said.
“We need to do something to turn this school system around,” one woman in attendance said.
Cripe was hired by the district in July of 2022 after previously serving as the superintendent of the Oak Hill School District for two years, and as principal at Hamilton Southeastern High School before that. Retired teacher Cindy Bannon said since Cripe took over at Southmont, they’ve lost nearly 50 employees.
“When you have a turnover like that, typically, it’s ineffective leadership. That being, not with the board, but with Dr. Cripe,” Bannon said. “When I taught here, there was a sense of community. It’s gone.”
Most who spoke at the meeting are optimistic about the opportunity to find a new leader.
“The resignation is a relief,” former staff member Danielle Newkirk said. “There’s been a lot of chaos the last year and a half, a lot of change.”
After unanimously approving Cripe’s resignation, Board President Daryl Hutson addressed the room – saying the board could not comment further. But he said they have been dealing with “horrendously difficult times.”
“As a community, we will get through this together and we will heal,” Hutson said during the meeting. “Trust me, we listen to you guys and it does affect our decisions.”
Emotions ran high for some, and board member Kyle Blaydes thanked the public for showing up and supporting his colleagues.
“This is not an easy place to sit. Thank you guys,” Blaydes said during the meeting.
Hutson said the next steps will be to search for a new superintendent but it is not clear when they’ll find a replacement.