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Pawnee School Board Relieves Teacher Of Coaching Duties

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Pawnee school board members held a special meeting Tuesday, April 9 to discuss the dismissal of teacher and coach Jeff Tatum. Pawnee school board members held a special meeting Tuesday, April 9 to discuss the dismissal of teacher and coach Jeff Tatum.
File photo. File photo.
Jeff Tatum's photo in the 2011 year book. Jeff Tatum's photo in the 2011 year book.
PAWNEE, Oklahoma -

The Pawnee school board met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the dismissal of teacher and girls' basketball coach Jeff Tatum.

His superintendent recommends he be fired. It all comes after allegations of sexual misconduct with a student.

Tuesday, the board called a special meeting to approve removing Jeff Tatum from the school's coaching staff. The Pawnee school board listened as Superintendent Ned Williams recommended that history teacher, Jeff Tatum, be let go.

"At this time, you will not be voting to accept or reject my recommendation; rather, you will be voting to acknowledge receipt of my recommendation," Williams said.

4/4/2013 Related Story: OSBI Investigates Teacher-Student Sexual Misconduct Claims At Pawnee High

The board voted to terminate Tatum's coaching responsibilities as of April 5, 2013. But his status as a teacher is still in question.

Tatum came to Pawnee in 2007. He's coached boys' and girls' golf, and for the past two years, has been the head girls' basketball coach.

The superintendent let Tatum know Friday he would no longer be coaching sports.

Williams told the school board terminating Tatum's employment was in the best interest of the school district. And the school board agreed.

By law, Tatum is entitled to a due process hearing.

Tatum seems to be remembered fondly in the small town. He graduated from Pawnee in the '90s, a high school golf state champion.

"Jeff was a good boy when he went to school. He was quite a golfer, I remember that," said lifelong Pawnee resident Forrest Reed.

He said, true or not, the allegations against Tatum are putting Pawnee on the map for the wrong reasons.

"It's a bad deal for the town," Reed said. "It's hard for me to believe."

There was no mention of the allegations at the special meeting, but the superintendent said the recommendations and actions speak for themselves.

The school received a tip accusing Tatum of sexual misconduct in late March. The school hasn't said who that tip came from and won't comment on the nature of the misconduct or when it took place. But a source within the school district said the female student involved has graduated.

The OSBI is investigating allegations of sexual misconduct between a teacher and a student within Pawnee schools, but investigators have not confirmed that Tatum is the focus of that investigation. As of now, no criminal charges have been filed.

Tatum is on paid leave until his hearing before the school board, set for May 16. That's when his employment as a "career teacher" will be decided.

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