H.S. adviser will not appeal suspension, transfer from post

INDIANAPOLIS – A teacher suspended over a story in the high school newspaper about a student arrested on murder charges has been permanently removed from his post as adviser.

Chad Tuley, an English and journalism teacher at Franklin Central High School, will no longer advise the student newspaper Pilot Flashes but has returned to his other teaching duties after the weeklong suspension.

He was suspended with pay Nov. 12 on charges of insubordination. Administrators claim he failed to follow directions to withhold a story on a student arrested at the high school and charged with murder.

According to The Associated Press, Tuley will not fight his removal from the newspaper.

"If that’s the direction they want to go, I’m going to accept that," he told the news organization.

Seventeen-year-old Christopher Pitcock was arrested Oct. 26 and charged with murder in connection with the stabbing and beating of a 67-year-old man. His sister also attends the public high school.

Tuley said he was made aware of concerns over the story via e-mail from Principal Kevin Koers but was never asked to censor it from the student publication.

Koers did not return calls seeking comment.

News editor Jennifer Searcy said the staff is trying to meet deadlines while also juggling with how, if at all, to stand up for Tuley.

"It’s frustrating because you want to keep your paper, but you want to have your First Amendment too," she said.

Searcy called Tuley a hands-off adviser who allows students to work through their own decision-making processes while pushing them toward excellence.

During his suspension last week, students at school donned T-shirts with the words "Free Tuley" and staged a walkout in protest of the administration’s actions.

Junior journalism student Ellen Gilmer described Tuley as a respected adviser who taught his staff members to be responsible and professional. Gilmer will join the Pilot Flashes staff next semester.

"He’s my teacher, and I respect him quite a bit," she said. "He’s a really good journalism teacher. I don’t think it’s right at all."

The chairman of the school’s English department told the Indianapolis Star he would appoint an interim adviser or serve as adviser himself.

Read previous coverage

  • H.S. adviser suspended after newspaper reports student’s arrest News Flash, 11/19/2004