Fitch resigns; Fruitland begins search for a replacement

Facing criminal charges of sexual battery and solicitation, Fruitland High School Principal Mike Fitch resigned Thursday.

“Mr. Fitch’s resignation does not admit any liability or wrongdoing and he makes this decision based on what’s best for his family,” Fitch’s attorneys, Alex Briggs and Mistie Bauscher, said in a statement released by the Fruitland School District late Thursday afternoon.“Due to the intense and biased media coverage in this matter, we look forward to presenting the facts in the future.”

The resignation comes nearly two months after the longtime principal and basketball coach was charged with two counts of sexual battery and a count of solicitation of a prostitute, all misdemeanors.

The charges stem from a workplace sexual harassment complaint. An adult female co-worker at the high school told police that Fitch repeatedly propositioned her, tried to physically force her into engaging in sexual activities and sent her unsolicited lewd messages on a work email account.

Fitch has pleaded not guilty, and is next scheduled to appear in court on May 3, the Idaho Statesman reported.

In March, the co-worker filed a tort claim against the district, alleging that multiple employees knew of Fitch’s “predatory behavior,” but failed to act. A tort claim is a precursor to a civil lawsuit.

Superintendent Teresa Fabricius said in the statement the district will post the job vacancy as soon as possible.

“I want to again thank our staff and students for staying focused on learning this year,” Fabricius said.

Fitch had been on leave since late last year, and Fabricius has doubled as high school administrator during that time. In her statement, Fabricius indicated she would remain in this dual role during the search for a replacement.

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