Schools say little about principal

Tuesday, April 19, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:00 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rock Bridge High School officials don’t have plans to speak to students and parents about sexual misconduct allegations made by an MU student against Principal Bruce Brotzman. Board of Education members have been virtually quiet on the issue as well.

“As far as what happens next, that’s up to the central office,” said Rock Bridge Assistant Principal Kathy Ritter. “We’re just going to continue on having school at Rock Bridge.”

Ritter declined to answer any other questions. “I’m not going to comment on it because it’s a sensitive issue,” she said.

Campus police barred Brotzman, 46, from all MU libraries for one year starting July 30 after they conducted an investigation into a campus security report of a complaint made by Michael Hopkins, an MU junior and library employee. Hopkins, 22, said Brotzman repeatedly squeezed his crotch before attempting to the do same to Hopkins in an encounter on the third floor of Ellis Library in July. No formal charges have been filed.

“I said everything I’m going to say,” Brotzman said Monday afternoon. “I am not talking about it.”

Brotzman submitted his resignation in January, citing a desire to hold an administrative position. He will leave Rock Bridge at the end of the school year for an administrative job in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

School board President J.C. Headley said he knew prior to Monday’s published report about Brotzman being barred from MU campus libraries. When questioned further, he said he could not remember when he had heard about the incident, then declined to comment.

Karla DeSpain and Kerry Crist, two school board members, declined to comment. Four other board members, as well as former board member Russ Still, did not return repeated phone calls. New board member Darin Preis left a message but then could not be reached.

Sondra Flaker, who is a PTSA member and has a daughter attending Rock Bridge, said she admires Brotzman for his work at the high school.

“He has been a great principal,” she said. “He’s done his work skillfully, and he’s made decisions that others have not. This is a gentleman who has done an excellent job with the school, and I have the utmost respect for him.”

Becky Awad, a parent of two Rock Bridge students, said Brotzman’s reasons for resigning, such as spending more time with his family, are legitimate.

“He is a family man, and in this kind of position there is zero time for family,” Awad said. “He goes to all the sporting events; he has meetings from 7 in the morning to late at night. It’s a full-time job and it’s hard on your family life.”

Rock Bridge student Tim Rustige, who was close friends with one of Brotzman’s sons, said he never saw anything suspicious. The Brotzman family is very religious, and the allegations made don’t “sound like Brotzman, at all,” he said.

“I got a lot of support from him,” Rustige said.

“I was on the wrestling team, and I’d wrestle with him,” he said of the principal, who has coached wrestling in the past. “He also helped me get a couple of jobs, and he always helped me at school.”

Missourian reporter Mark Szakonyi contributed to this report.

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