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P-H-M board member accused of paying for prostitutes says he will not resign

Penn-Harris-Madison Schools trustee Matt Chaffee
Penn-Harris-Madison Schools trustee Matt Chaffee

Penn-Harris-Madison school board member Matt Chaffee says he will not resign in a statement released to a local radio personality.

In a post published to a right wing blog last month, Chaffee is accused of paying prostitutes for sex and of having problems with alcohol abuse. Those allegations, and a lack of any denial from Chaffee, prompted the P-H-M school board to approve a resolution calling for him to step down.

In his statement, Chaffee says he won't comment publicly due to "an investigative agency" conducting an investigation into the allegations.

"Based on the advice of not only my team of legal advisors, but, most importantly, based on a pending and active investigation by an investigative agency into the sources behind this story, I have been asked not to comment on the story or the allegations so as not to interfere with or disrupt that investigation," the statement reads. "As much as I would love to comment on the tactics being used against me, I am heeding the advice of my attorneys and this investigative agency. I will not be resigning as a PHM School Board Trustee, nor will I be publicly commenting on this issue in the future until the investigation is concluded. My focus will remain on serving the constituents that have elected me into office and our PHM community."

It is unclear what investigative agency Chaffee is referring to. Both the South Bend and St. Joseph County police departments say Chaffee is not involved in any current investigations. Chaffee has not responded to messages from WVPE seeking comment.

Despite its 5-0 vote calling on Chaffee to resign, the P-H-M school board has no legal recourse to force him out of his seat. There are no recall mechanisms in Indiana and unless Chaffee is convicted of a felony or shows up to schools events intoxicated, he can't be removed from office, according to board attorney Jeff Johnson.

School board president Chris Riley, who Chaffee has consistently butted heads with, said the board's vote was meant to send a message that Chaffee's alleged behavior is intolerable.

“We have people in our school district who are obviously concerned given the grievous nature of the allegations about having a school board member who has allegedly committed this conduct,” Riley said. “It was very important for the school board to make a public statement that this conduct is not acceptable.”

P-H-M’s next school board meeting is set for next Monday.

Marek Mazurek has been with WVPE since April 2023, though he's been in Michiana for most of his life. He has a particular interest in public safety reporting. When he's not on the radio, Marek enjoys getting way too into Notre Dame football and reading about medieval English history.