Cripe resigns as head of Southmont schools


NEW MARKET — South school board members were met Thursday with a packed meeting room of people — all there to witness the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Chad C. Cripe.

Cripe, who joined the corporation in June 2022, was not in attendance.

The board accepted the administrator’s resignation letter dated Oct. 3 by a 5-0 vote. Board members Jake Watson and Jerry Kinkead were absent from the special meeting.

Board President Daryl Hutson allowed those in attendance, who had requested to speak before the start of the meeting, three minutes to express their thoughts. Six people stood and spoke about some of the issues that had arisen since Cripe was hired.

Former teacher Cindy Bannon said the school corporation has had 47 employees leave Southmont schools since Cripe was hired. Thirty-three certified staff members and 14 other staff members left the corporation since the 2022-23 school year, Bannon said.

Employee Melissa Norman asked the board to focus on students as the transition begins to hire a new superintendent.

Former employee Stacy Duncan encouraged the board to move forward.

“We all agree it has been a rough year-and-a-half,” Duncan said. “Unfortunately, the burden has been put on you, the board. It is time to move forward and also reflect on what has happened.”

The resignation agreement between Cripe and the corporation also was approved by the board. Per the agreement, Cripe will be paid a $136,000 salary ($5,555.67 twice a month for 12 months). The corporation will continue to make contributions in Cripe’s name to the Indiana State Retirement Fund and will provide $6,800 to Cripe’s retirement account. Cripe will remain eligible to participate in the corporation’s health insurance plan and the corporation will pay the full premium for the health insurance as stated in his contract.

Hutson told those in attendance that the board does not have an official plan to move forward, but will soon. The trustees have yet to name an interim superintendent at this time.

“We are in the infant stages of all of this,” Hutson said. “We do have confidence in our staff that they will be fine and we all will carry on.”

Cripe previously served as superintendent at Oak Hill United School Corporation in Converse. Prior to that, he was a principal at Hamilton Southeastern High School and Tippecanoe Valley High School. He began his education career over 20 years ago as a social studies teacher and basketball coach.

Efforts by the Journal Review to get a comment from Cripe were unsuccessful.