West Branch Police, school district: No employee is under criminal investigation

WEST BRANCH, Iowa (KCRG) - The West Branch Police Department says they are investigating a case at the high school, at the time the school's principal, Shannon Bucknell, took what the district called an "absence."

West Branch High School (Marlon Hall/KCRG)

In an e-mail to parents in the school district, the school district said the middle school principal Sara Oswald would "be covering duties at the high school in lieu of Mr. Bucknell's absence." It did not specify why Bucknell was taking an absence.

In a statement to TV9, West Branch Community School District Superintendent Marty Jimmerson said Thursday: "to our knowledge, no West Branch Community School District employee is under any sort of criminal investigation."

West Branch Police Chief Mike Horrihan echoed that statement, telling TV9 there is "no criminal activity whatsoever" involving Bucknell. Horrihan also said their investigation did not start because of anything involving Bucknell.

"We have no evidence that anyone as far as the school or its teachers or superintendents did anything criminally wrong," Chief Horrihan said.

Chief Horrihan said their initial investigation was never pointed in the direction of Bucknell.

"What initially happened, happened between students- and that is really confidential information," Chief Horrihan said. Chief Horrihan could not elaborate since the investigation is ongoing and involved minors.

Prior to Thursday, Jimmerson told TV9 they "don't discuss confidential personnel matters," but did confirm Bucknell remains an employee of the district, with the position of high school principal. Bucknell has been on staff since July 1, 2014.