Washington Township schools terminates North Central principal after student discipline probe

The photo shows a brick building with white letters on it that read “North Central High School.”
Washington Township schools dismissed Principal Evans Branigan III on Wednesday following an investigation into verbal misconduct and failure to follow district protocol involving student discipline. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Chalkbeat)

The Metropolitan School District of Washington Township has terminated the employment of North Central High School Principal Evans Branigan III, following an investigation into allegations of verbal misconduct and a failure to follow district protocols in a student discipline matter. 

The announcement, which the district sent to families on Wednesday, ends an investigation that began last month. Branigan had announced his retirement earlier this school year before being placed on leave.

The school district did not offer additional details about the allegations or the investigation. Branigan could not be reached for comment. 

“Washington Township Schools is firmly committed to maintaining a learning and work environment with no tolerance for harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, and other protected classifications,” the district said in the statement to families. “We continue to encourage staff and students to report any misconduct they witness.” 

The decision is part of a difficult year for North Central. Last month, the school board approved a $245,000 settlement for a federal lawsuit involving alleged sexual harassment and predatory behavior by a former staff member. 

In its statement, the district said Branigan had the opportunity under state law to challenge the decision but declined to do so. 

The school board on Wednesday approved the hiring of a new permanent principal for North Central, a school of roughly 3,600 students and the district’s only high school.

Daniel Mendez, principal of Seymour Middle School, will lead the school beginning in the summer. Eugene White, the former superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools and Washington Township schools, is leading the school on an interim basis through mid-June. 

Mendez has earned the statewide Middle School Principal of the Year recognition for Indiana, making him a contender for the National Principal of the Year honor. 

“Dr. Mendez brings not only exceptional Principal leadership experiences but proven success with raising achievement for diverse populations of students in urban public schools,” Superintendent Nikki Woodson said in a statement released Thursday. 

In a statement, Mendez said he has always had great respect for the district. 

“It is an honor to join the North Central High School and Washington Township Schools family,” he said. “I can’t wait to get started.”

Amelia Pak-Harvey covers Indianapolis and Marion County schools for Chalkbeat Indiana. Contact Amelia at apak-harvey@chalkbeat.org.

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