Iowa school district to look at allegations

Cedar Rapids schools will start an inquiry on accusations about Bruce Brotzman.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:10 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Officials from Cedar Rapids Community Schools in Iowa said Tuesday they are working with a school district attorney to begin an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against Rock Bridge High School Principal Bruce Brotzman, whom they recently hired to be their executive administrator for secondary education.

Cedar Rapids Community Schools hired Brotzman in March, after he resigned from Rock Bridge after six years as principal in January with little explanation about his plans. Brotzman is scheduled to begin work in Cedar Rapids on July 1.

“We’ve started our own investigation here,” said Cedar Rapids Superintendent Dave Markward. “We certainly want to be fair and not jump to conclusions.”

MU 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, reported that Brotzman appeared sexually aroused and had followed him from one floor of Ellis Library to another. No formal charges have been filed.

Cedar Rapids school officials said they had not heard of the allegations or the trespass order issued by MU Police against Brotzman before Monday.

The Cedar Rapids Community School Board approved Brotzman’s contract on March 14 after screening his application and completing background and reference checks. The references checked were the ones Brotzman wrote down on his application, but Markward also contacted Brotzman’s past supervisors.

Markward said Tuesday that he had found nothing suspicious at that time. Applicants were then interviewed by teams of nine to 11 people, according to the district Web site. Ann Feldmann, Cedar Rapids school district human resource director, then visited Columbia and spoke with school staff members and others about Brotzman, Markward said.

Mary Meisterling, president of the Cedar Rapids Community School Board, said school officials are waiting on what the investigation reveals and any recommendations the school district’s attorney may offer.

“This is not something we’ve ever encountered before,” she said. “We want to be fair with everything to make sure we make a good decision for everybody.”

Meisterling said there is a possibility Brotzman could lose his job if the investigation shows the allegations to be true.

“We would have to sit down with the board and have a conversation with him about it,” she said. “I think, from his perspective, he’d feel uncomfortable coming to the district with those allegations.”

Rock Bridge officials said Monday that they had no plans to address the allegations involving Brotzman with parents or students. However, Assistant Principal Kathy Ritter did send an e-mail to staff members that was later forwarded to parents of Rock Bridge students.

“There is a story in the Missourian today regarding Dr. Brotzman,” the e-mail states. “The allegations included are just that —allegations. Because this is a personnel issue, Dr. Brotzman will not comment and this is the stance of RBHS as well.”

Ritter then asked the staff to focus on “continuing to teach and support kids as always.”

Missourian reporter Mark Szakonyi contributed to this report.

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