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Jason Shaw founded Tristen's Hope Foundation.
Courtesy Tristen's Hope Foundation website
Jason Shaw founded Tristen's Hope Foundation.

Status of Republic nonprofit in question after founder resigns

Posted online

Last edited 12:39 p.m., Dec. 13, 2023 [Editor's note: A statement from the Republic Police Department has been added.]

The future of a Republic mental health and suicide prevention nonprofit may be up in the air after the announcement this week of its founder's exit.

In a Facebook post this week, Tristen's Hope Foundation officials indicated founder Jason Shaw had resigned and that the board unanimously and immediately approved the move. Shaw additionally has been terminated from his job as a bus driver for the Republic School District following “inappropriate communication,” according to a statement provided by the district.

"We as a board take all inappropriate behavior seriously, and our priority is the well-being of our students associated with the community of Republic," the Tristen's Hope Foundation statement posted to Facebook reads. "All future Tristen's Hope Foundation events have been canceled.

"We recognize that there is a large need within the community, and the board continues to stand behind the mission of the organization, which is to continue to show each other love, respect and care."

The nonprofit’s Facebook page has since been taken down, but Springfield Business Journal took a screenshot of the post that's available here.

The statement from Republic School District officials says the school system will “no longer be affiliated” with Shaw or Tristen’s Hope Foundation.

“The Republic School District has recently been made aware of inappropriate communication by an employee. We take these issues very seriously. The district took immediate action and followed policy and procedure. As a result of a thorough investigation, the employee in question has been terminated," the statement reads. "The district will continue to follow policy and procedure, and will continue to cooperate fully with the appropriate law enforcement agencies in this matter."

In addition to Shaw, the latest Missouri secretary of state filing listed under TristensHopeFoundation names Lynnea Shaw and Jessica Schultze as board members.

The exact nature of the alleged inappropriate behavior by Jason Shaw was not disclosed in the statements released by Tristen's Hope Foundation and the Republic School District.

There are no current filings in Missouri Case.net records for Shaw. Don Ledford, spokesperson for the office of Teresa Moore, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said the office has not filed any litigation against Shaw. Officials with Tristen’s Hope Foundation have not returned an email seeking further comment.

Republic Police Department Chief Brian Sells provided an emailed statement.

"The Republic Police Department is aware of the information being circulated involving alleged inappropriate contact with a minor," the statement reads. "We are pursuing all leads and evidence to obtain the facts of the case, and we aim to ensure a fair and thorough investigative process while maintaining the privacy of everyone involved. This is currently (an) open investigation."

Shaw founded Tristen's Hope Foundation after his 17-year-old son's suicide in 2021, according to the nonprofit's website.

This is a developing story. Any additional information will be added as Springfield Business Journal receives it.

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