Skiatook Scool Board fires science teacher for policy violation

Friday, November 10th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

After a six and a half hour hearing Thursday night, the Skiatook school board unanimously voted to fire science teacher Dennis Curtis. Curtis says the board had made up its mind beforehand. " I felt like this was a formality to go through," he said.

During the due process hearing the school district’s attorney argued Curtis knew about Harry Noonie Red Eagle Junior’s videotapes for eight months before he acted. “Mr. Curtis's failure to take action is in clear violation of the school district's policies regarding the reporting of suspected child abuse," said school board member Shirley Lett.

One of the videotapes shows, Red Eagle placing a camera in a girls locker room. Curtis was Red Eagle's roommate in the fall of 1999. According to testimony, when Curtis found the tapes in October of ’99, he didn't want to turn them over to the superintendent who is Red Eagles father. He also thought the police department would turn the other cheek. "You did nothing for 8 months,” the school’s attorney told Curtis. Curtis responded, " I had no tapes to deal with. I didn't have the tapes.”

Curtis admits, his big mistake came when he gave the three videotapes to his soon to be ex-wife, before he watched them. She testified she didn't watch the tapes either, but used them as a bargaining tool during their break up. "I didn't want to know anything about him at that time,” she said. “I was going through a divorce.

About eight months later, she watched the tapes, and immediately gave two of them back to Curtis. He watched the tapes with Skiatook assistant principal Gary Ferguson. Then both men helped turn them over to The News on Six. “What I did was without any malice,” Curtis said. “I did it to protect the kids. I may not have done it the right way, but there was no neglect." He says his next step is to sue the school district, and get a hearing before a judge. Curtis says he wants the word ‘termination’ removed from his resume.

Curtis's ex-wife didn't want anyone to watch the third videotape. When she heard Red Eagle Junior was possibly facing misdeanmoners, she turned the final tape over to the district attorney. Red Eagle Junior has been charged with about a half-dozen felonies.

Assistant principal Ferguson’s due process hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday.