Reservation School Meltdown: Mass Firings After Allegations of Drugs, Corruption, Sexual Misconduct

in Wind River Reservation/News

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By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily

After a federal investigation alleged sexual misconduct, drug use, misspending, nepotism, intimidation and corruption among St. Stephen’s Indian School leaders, the school’s superintendent, two principals and other officials have been fired.

The school’s entire school board has also been fired by the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes, the two announced in a statement, and the school is being temporarily run by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Education.

The firings followed an investigation by the BIE that was completed in April at the request of the tribes.

Topless Dancing 

The report included allegations of many misdeeds by Superintendent Frank No Runner, including sexual misconduct involving students.  

Witnesses interviewed by the BIE testified that No Runner asked a female teenage student who babysat his children if she would have sex with him for money. The babysitter is reported to have grabbed her things and left No Runner’s house after his advance.   

Another girl was spotted dancing topless at an alcohol-fueled party at No Runner’s house while she was 17 and still a student at the school.  

When two of the girl’s friends went to No Runner’s house to pick up the girl, who is identified in the report as “Witness 5,” they saw her on the coffee table “dancing topless and being encouraged by the adults in the room.”  

The report identified some of the adults as No Runner, St. Stephen’s Elementary School Principal Greg Juneau; St. Stephen’s Food Supervisor Pattee Bement — later No Runner’s wife — and St. Stephen’s High School Principal Matthew Mortimore.

Multiple witnesses also testified that No Runner asked students and former students for nude photos and sex or to attend parties at his house. 

No Runner himself testified that he’d sent $100 to “Witness 5” during a regional basketball tournament in the same year, although he also testified the money “was not for (nude) pictures.”  

On one occasion, the report said, No Runner offered a girl $400 to come to his house party with her friends.  

“(The girl) really needed the money,” testified one source in the report. “And she would go to his house for the money and stay for a bit and leave.”  

No Runner had bragged to a friend roughly three years after the topless-dancing incident that “Witness 5,” when she was 20, slept with him on his 40th birthday, the report said.  

Another female known as “Witness 6” said she left her job at the school because No Runner and Juneau kept trying to show her and her boyfriend, who also worked at the school, nude pictures of girls. 

“Witness 6” also claimed the two men directed sexual comments at her and asked her at inappropriate times of the night to come to their homes.  

The school declined to provide contact information for Frank No Runner, instead relaying a Cowboy State Daily reporter to the acting superintendent’s voicemail.  

No one from the school returned the voicemail requesting comment on Tuesday morning.  

Bement and Mortimore did not respond Tuesday morning to social media messages requesting comment.  

‘Takes Two To Tango’ 

No Runner told investigators that he’d also had an affair with “Witness 4.”  

“Witness 4” did not corroborate this claim, according to the BIE report.  

“She was of age and a willing participant,” said No Runner’s testimony.  

In other exhibits, Bement, who was then No Runner’s girlfriend, began messaging “Witness 4” woman on Facebook, asking if “Witness 4” wanted to meet No Runner at the Holiday Inn, “because he’s game.”  

When “Witness 4” didn’t respond, Bement wrote “It takes two to tango right,” followed by “Honey do you still want to get (expletive),” according to the report.  

“It is unclear,” wrote the investigator, “if Bement was harassing ‘Witness 4’ on this occasion, or if she was soliciting sex for No Runner.”  

Either way, “Witness 4” got a restraining order against Bement.  

The relationship between No Runner and “Witness 4” ended in 2021, the report said, roughly around the time the woman’s boyfriend started trying to fight No Runner.  

Superintendent’s Hot Box, Principal’s Cocaine 

No Runner and Juneau are accused of smoking marijuana both on and off school premises.  

Many of the alleged incidents occurred at No Runner’s house, which is on campus in a St. Stephen’s Indian Mission home.   

No Runner’s neighbor testified that she knew of frequent parties at the man’s house, and on one occasion she law “a lot of weed and alcohol in the house,” and students drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana.  

A school employee testified that on a school-sponsored trip to New Orleans for a “No Kid Hungry” training, No Runner and Bement smoked marijuana in the car with the windows shut, which “hot boxed” the employee while she sat in the back seat.   

“She was really upset because she felt as if she was forced to inhale the second-hand marijuana smoke,” the report states.  

Another witness said she saw Juneau use cocaine at No Runner’s house, adding that he offered her some.  

There were ex-students at this party who, the witness said, “were not old enough to drink.”  

Yet another witness had been told by her boyfriend that No Runner smoked marijuana “with some boys outside the (school) gym.”  

Several employees testified that Juneau came to the elementary school “high” at least once a week. 

Bement also is accused of smoking marijuana on campus, in the home she and No Runner share with their children.   

Bullying, Nepotism 

Staff members testified that No Runner fast-tracked his wife, Bement, from a lower position into her role as foods supervisor, resulting in a $10,000 annual raise. She also received an additional $5,000 raise to manage a grant program.  

Before Bement filled the position, food supervision was an extra duty performed by a staff member paid a $13,000 stipend. For Bement it became a full-time position worth $50,000 per year.  

When Bement was still a long-term substitute teacher, she missed 279 days over the course of three years, the report continued, and was tardy on 78 days in that timeframe.  

“SSIS has a four-day school week,” the investigator wrote, “which when considering the number of absences, is even more alarming,” and “harmed Indian children.”  

When other staff members approached No Runner about his wife’s absenteeism, the superintendent is reported to have said things like “You are not going to fire my wife.”  

He then promoted her to the food supervisor position, the report states. 

Government Funds 

The school is federally funded.   

According to the report, the SSIS school board “inappropriately” authorized Juneau and others to pay out between $14,400 and $18,000 in federal public funds per year for employees’ rent payments without performing the required needs assessments and reviews for the funding.  

The report also accused the school board of authorizing school-funded car repairs for an employee.  

School Board member Ronnie Oldman declined to comment.  

Certification 

School leadership is accused of a failure to terminate or properly caution teachers whose certifications had expired.  

Juneau’s teaching certification was reported to have expired in 2020, and he “does not have a current valid license yet has been authorized to perform his job” at the elementary school.  

Juneau reportedly did not apply for recertification through the Wyoming Professional Teaching Standards Board until Sept. 3, 2021. The application was canceled by PTSB three months later, the report states, because Juneau didn’t submit his fingerprints – a requirement of the background check portion of teacher certification.  

His application was reopened Jan. 1 but was still pending when the BIE report was authored.  

Credit Cards, Bullying 

No Runner is reported to have bullied at least one school parent on Facebook, created a toxic working environment for staff, showed up drunk to an alumni basketball game and used the school’s credit card for personal purchases.  

Joint Government 

“This is truly a sad day,” Jordan Dresser, Chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council said in a prepared statement Monday evening. “And I regret that we as tribal leaders had no choice but to ensure a safe and orderly learning environment at St. Stephen’s Indian School by removing these individuals from the roles in which they had been entrusted.” 

Dresser’s comments came in response to the vote by both his governmental panel and the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, which oversees the Shoshone Tribe.  

Both tribes occupy the Wind River Indian Reservation.  

Those fired immediately from their roles at the school include No Runner, Juneau, Matthew Mortimore, Bement – and the entire school board: William C’Hair, John Goggles, Ronnie Oldman, and Eugene Ridge Bear.  Dominic Littleshield, another board member implicated in the report, was no longer on the school board when the accusations emerged.

John St. Clair, Chairman of the ESBC, is quoted in the statement saying “the BIE report speaks for itself,” and that the BIE investigation does not “address criminal conduct.”  

“Our action is a precautionary effort aimed at protecting our children and community.”  

Both tribes had requested the BIE investigation.  

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