Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

October 16, 2013

Inappropriate conduct with student leads to firing of NorthWood teacher

NAPPANEE — A NorthWood High School teacher has been fired after allegations that she had inappropriate conduct with a male high school student.

Brooke Wilson taught Spanish at NorthWood and was fired during Monday night’s meeting of the Wa-Nee School Board.

Superintendent Joe Sabo issued a press release Tuesday morning explaining the firing.  

“After learning on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, of allegations regarding a teacher’s possible inappropriate conduct with a male high school student, Wa-Nee Schools immediately commenced an investigation,” Sabo said in the release. “… Ms. Wilson was immediately suspended in accordance with Indiana law. During her suspension, Ms. Wilson was prohibited from interacting in any fashion with students and from being on school grounds.”

Reports were filed by school officials with “appropriate authorities,” Sabo said. He did not indicate which authorities had been contacted.

During Monday’s meeting the school board voted to cancel Wilson’s teaching contract effective immediately.

“From the beginning, our focus is the best interests of our students,” Sabo stated in the release. “We believe that our course of action was fair, responsible and appropriate. To avoid interfering in any manner with the possible criminal proceeding, Wa-Nee Schools must limit its comments. Additionally, federal and state privacy laws prevent us from commenting on this matter beyond this statement. Our students’ safety and well-being are our utmost concerns. Rest assured that Wa-Nee Schools will undertake all measures to safeguard our children, who are our community’s future.”

Rachel Rowe, who most recently served as NorthWood High School’s special education teacher, was transferred to the position of Spanish teacher immediately.

Information about Wilson had been listed on NorthWood’s website prior to her dismissal. The information has since been removed.

According to the previous site listing, Wilson is a Westview High School graduate who spent a year and a half as a volunteer special education teacher in the Dominican Republic.

“In addition, she has traveled to Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua and has thoroughly enjoyed learning the Spanish culture firsthand,” the NorthWood site read.

Wilson received her bachelor’s degree in Spanish education at Indiana University — South Bend.

Wilson was a new teacher at NorthWood during the 2012-13 school year. Prior to that, she had been with Goshen Community Schools. Goshen schools Superintendent Diane Woodworth indicated that Wilson was a special education paraprofessional for two years at Goshen Middle School.

“In that role, she would have always been closely supervised by the special education teachers,” Woodworth said via email. “She was then a substitute for us for a year or so while she finished her college degree.”

Woodworth said Wilson passed the school corporation’s extended background checks, and was in good standing as a support staff member.

Nappanee Police Chief Julie Dijkstra said her department was not investigating the case and that it had been turned over to the Elkhart County police.

Capt. Jim Bradberry with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday that county police are investigating a child seduction case; he did not confirm whether that case involved Wilson. He also said police are not releasing details about the investigation at this time.

Ed Windbigler, chief investigator of the Elkhart County Prosecutor’s Office, said “not yet” when asked if any charges had been filed in regards to the case and no paperwork “has not arrived” at their office as of Tuesday morning.

Goshen News staffers Scott Weisser and Sherry Van Arsdall contributed to this report.


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