Oologah-Talala School Board Fires Head Football Coach

Wednesday, October 31st 2018, 5:47 am

The Oologah-Talala school board voted early Wednesday to fire the high school's head football coach for inappropriately touching a female student.

The special meeting ended just after 2 a.m. with the school board voting 3-2 to immediately fire Chase Kime as head football coach and math teacher.

School board member Don Tice made the motion on the grounds that Kime "inappropriately touched a female student, which was captured on a video recording."

Before the vote, the board heard testimony that another student recorded video of Kime touching a female student in Kime's classroom on September 4, 2018. According to the testimony, the student who recorded the video showed it to the high school principal while waiting to get on the bus to go home that afternoon.

Later that afternoon, the student sent the video to the principal, who then notified the school superintendent about it, according to testimony.

The superintendent, Max Tanner, testified he was at a school softball game when the principal contacted him and had to get out of the sunshine to watch the video on his phone. He said he then organized a meeting in his office with the principal, the assistant superintendent and Kime later that afternoon.

Tanner and the principal testified Kime denied the allegation of touching a student inappropriately. They said he immediately named two female students without prompting as the two he thought would have been involved in the incident that day.

They each testified when they informed him there was video of the incident, he replied, "You're s----ing me." Tanner said he directed the principal to investigate the incident and suspended Kime the next day. The principal said he interviewed the student who shot the video and the girl involved in the incident. 

The superintendent and the principal each testified the girl's written statement contradicted what they saw on the video. It's unclear if the board members were ever given a copy of that statement. 

They each testified they called DHS, which they said they were required to do by law, and that DHS said during the call that it refused to investigate. Tanner testified he also called the School Resource Officer, who's an Oologah Police Officer, and verbally reported the incident to him. Tanner said he didn't know if the officer prepared a report or notified the district attorney's office. 

10/29/2018 Related Story: Oologah-Talala Coach Fighting To Keep Job After Abuse Accusations

Kime testified the student, who was not in his algebra class, came to his classroom upset and that he asked her if she needed to speak to his wife, who's also an Oologah teacher and whom he said he'd refer female students to if they needed help. He testified he tugged on the girl's shirt to get her to make eye contact with him so he could find out what was wrong.

Kime's testimony contradicted a request for a Temporary Restraining Order against the district filed by his attorney last week, in which the attorney said the video was recorded while Kime "was busy taping ankles or whatever injuries for the school athletes as he usually does." 

Board members heard testimony that Tanner had suspended Kime in April of 2017 for inappropriately touching eight students. Tanner testified he asked Kime about the suspension when considering Tanner's promotion to head football coach earlier this year and that Kime promised him he would never do anything like that again. 

A former Oologah High School principal called as a character witness for Kime admitted on cross examination that he had written up Kime for inappropriately touching a student in 2011. 

Tanner testified that when the administration confronted Kime on September 4th, Kime said he understood they could fire him because of the new incident. 

The board went into executive session early in the meeting, presumably to watch the video, but took no action related to that session and voted to return to open session so that testimony could begin.

Tice told the board during the meeting the coach's actions cannot be tolerated by the district. 

Kime's attorney recommended delaying the decision until the board could read the female student's written statement. 

The board went into executive session just before midnight and came out at 2 a.m. and voted to fire Kime.

Kime didn't say anything afterward, but he appeared to be fighting back tears at the meeting.

More than 150 people were in attendance when the meeting began at 6 p.m. and one-third of them stayed until it ended at 2 a.m.