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 After Nine Weeks on Paid Leave, Bradford Resigns

July 1, 2009 - Rather than face possible termination, Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation Athletic Director David Bradford has opted to resign from his job, a move that will also let him avoid prosecution for allegedly battering a Knightstown High School student.

The CAB School Board was scheduled to meet privately in executive session Tuesday night to discuss Bradford's tendered resignation, which CAB received last week. Any vote or final action by the board on this matter was expected to occur during the public meeting that was to immediately follow the executive session.

Bradford, who had coached the varsity softball team at Knightstown High School this year, was accused of striking a KHS player on the arm during an April 23 game, knocking the 17-year-old girl off a bench in the dugout and leaving a mark on her arm. Storie placed Bradford on paid leave the day after that game, a decision the school board ratified during a special meeting a week later.

On May 1, CAB officially notified Bradford that the school board intended to meet to consider canceling his contract. Two weeks later, Bradford filed a notice with CAB requesting a hearing in front of the school board, something state statute allows for teachers facing termination.

The school board had initially been required to meet to decide whether to cancel Bradford's contract between 30 and 40 days after it sent the May 1 notice. However, according to CAB Superintendent Gary Storie, Bradford requested a continuance, which resulted in his hearing being scheduled for June 30.

Storie provided The Banner with a copy of the five-page resignation agreement on Monday. The document indicated Bradford had signed it the week before, on June 18, and it had lines for Storie to sign and date it if the school board votes to accept the agreement.

Under the terms of the proposed agreement, Bradford was to have seven days from the date he signed it to reconsider his decision. Those seven days expired at 4 p.m. last Thursday.

If the school board accepts the resignation agreement as written, the board's efforts to cancel Bradford's contract would come to a halt and his resignation would be effective as of yesterday. The school corporation would also be required to pay Bradford all compensation and benefits he was owed through June 30, including the remaining balance of his nearly $4,000 stipend for coaching the KHS softball team.

Storie told The Banner that Bradford had received about half of the coaching stipend before he was suspended over this incident, and said he thought Bradford had coached about half the season before he was suspended on April 24. According to the KHS spring sports schedule, there were 13 of 22 softball games left on the schedule, plus sectional, after Bradford's suspension took effect.

As of last Friday, Bradford had been on paid leave for nine weeks. According to his contract, which was to run through June 30, 2010, CAB pays him $2,136.73 every two weeks. His yearly salary at CAB, not including the softball coaching stipend, had been $59,444, with total compensation worth $97,120.

The resignation agreement says Bradford, for his part, agrees to release CAB, its officer, employees and agents, from any liability related to his employment at CAB and the steps that had been taken toward terminating him. Bradford, the agreement says, waives "all claims, grievances, causes of action, and demands for relief" he may have against those parties with respect to those issues. He also agrees to waive any other claims he might have for issues like discrimination based on age or disability, or others based on CAB policy and practices, or his contract.

The agreement also contains a similar release and waiver on the part of CAB with respect to Bradford. However, the agreement does specifically state that CAB would not be precluded from "naming Bradford as a party or asserting claims against him if the claims are asserted against the School District arising from the incident involving the softball team in the spring of 2009." The agreement noted that, at this time, no one had asserted any such claims against CAB.

If the school board approves it, the resignation agreement says CAB will acknowledge that "Bradford does not believe there is any basis" to terminate his contract. The agreement also says that CAB will acknowledge that Bradford's resignation and acceptance of this agreement "is not an admission of any liability or an admission as to the truth of any allegations made against him."

Henry County Prosecutor Kit Crane told The Banner that Bradford's resignation was prompted by his decision not to charge Bradford with battery, even though he felt probable cause supporting such a charge exists. Crane said he had specifically communicated to Bradford's legal counsel that no criminal charge would be filed if Bradford resigned prior to his June 30 hearing in front of the school board.

This was not, Crane said, his first effort to broker a resolution to this matter. Several weeks earlier, he said he had spoken with Storie and proposed a punishment involving a three-week unpaid suspension, but that recommendation, which Storie presented in executive session on May 19, was not accepted by the school board. Crane said it was clear to him that a majority of the school board was not satisfied with that proposal, so he said he moved forward with an alternative. He said he communicated to Bradford's legal counsel on June 10 or 11 that he would not file a criminal charge against him if Bradford agreed to resign.

"I gave Bradford's defense attorney a choice," Crane said, "the choice being that if Bradford decided to resign and waive his (due process) rights … then I told them that I would not file a criminal charge against him."

Crane said that Bradford has been "punished significantly for action that is consistent with a misdemeanor."

According to Crane, he received a copy of the resignation agreement on Monday, June 22, signed by Bradford, from CAB's attorney, David Day. This was two days before Day's office provided Storie with a copy.

Crane said he thinks the way this matter is being resolved is probably best for all involved. "The real winner in this situation," he said, "is the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation and the students and future students."

Had his office charged Bradford with battery -- knowingly or intentionally touching another person "in a rude, insolent, or angry manner" -- Crane said the case may not have been resolved quickly. "It could linger," he said, "and it could fester, and it could do more harm for both the victim and for the school."

Despite his belief that probable cause exists to support the filing of a battery charge in this case, Crane noted that's no guarantee that Bradford would be convicted. "There was probable cause," he said, "but whether or not I could prove, based on the evidence that I had ... beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed the crime -- I'm not 100-percent convinced that we would be able to do that."

Crane said he believes that Bradford is being held accountable for his actions. By resigning half-way through his two-year contract with CAB, Crane said Bradford is being "punished significantly for action that is consistent with a misdemeanor."

Dianne Roland, mother of the KHS softball player Bradford is alleged to have hit, told The Banner she had no problem with Crane's decision not to charge Bradford with battery. "I don't wish anything bad for him," she said of Bradford. "I don't think he's a dangerous person. I think he did something that he regrets now in a moment of anger, and I think it's one of those things, now you have to move on with what happened."

Roland said that whatever happens to now is out of her hands. "I'm happy to leave it with the school board, the prosecutor, and Mr. Bradford to do with whatever they think best," she said.

The Banner tried to contact Bradford on Monday to ask him about his decision to resign, but as of the Tuesday news deadline for this week's issue, he had not responded to the message left for him. When contacted in late April, Bradford declined to comment on the allegation against him.

According to an incident report made by the Knightstown Police Department, Bradford told the KPD on April 27 that his contact with the KHS player had been unintentional. The investigating officer reported that Bradford said he didn't even realize he "must have pushed her" until he saw her crying when she exited the dugout at the end of the inning.

 

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