April 13, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.

Teacher placed on leave

Bowers faces allegations of misconduct


A Jay County Junior-Senior High School teacher has been placed on administrative leave following an allegation of misconduct.

Jay Schools superintendent Jeremy Gulley confirmed Saturday afternoon that Joel Bowers was placed on administrative leave Thursday.

Bowers, 36, Portland, is listed as a social studies teacher on the Jay County Junior-Senior High School website.

He is also chair of the Democratic Party in Jay County.

Bowers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday afternoon.

The alleged misconduct occurred Wednesday, with school officials receiving a report on the incident Thursday, Gulley said. In a press release following a request by The Commercial Review for information regarding Bowers’ status as a teacher, he said there were “allegations of conduct in violation of JSC Policy 3213 Student Supervision and Welfare.” (That section of school corporation policy details standards such as providing proper instruction, reporting threats of violence, not fraternizing with students in an inappropriate manner and only communicating with students via electronic means directly related to school matters.) He added that information regarding the allegation was turned over to the school resource officer.

The teacher was then called to the principal’s office during Thursday's lunch period to be informed of the allegation and “served notice” of his administrative leave.

Gulley did not characterize the nature of the allegations, saying he does not want to interfere or complicate the investigation by the sheriff’s office.

“As this matter is under investigation, appropriate information will be communicated to the extent, and at such time, as is consistent with the School Corporation’s confidentiality obligations,” said Gulley in a press release Saturday afternoon after The Commercial Review requested information regarding Bowers’ status.

Jay County Sheriff Ray Newton said Saturday evening that Bowers has declined to speak with police without his lawyer present. He added that the sheriff’s office is working to set up an interview with Bowers next week.

No arrest had been made as of 5 p.m. Saturday.

According to mycase.IN.gov, Bowers has no criminal history beyond a traffic infraction.

The incident marks the second time this year that a junior-senior high school employee has been placed on administrative leave for alleged misconduct. In January, assistant principal/dean Brad Milleman was placed on administrative leave after two lawsuits were filed against him alleging violations of students’ Fourth Amendment rights via “invasive” searches. Milleman returned to work last month when, following an independent legal review, Gulley said he concluded that the students' Fourth Amendment rights were not violated.

A tort claim — a notification of intent to pursue legal action against a government agency — was filed against the school corporation in connection with the initial lawsuit against Milleman and Hudson.

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