Skiatook School Board sets due process hearing for suspended teacher

Wednesday, September 27th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Parents and other Skiatook citizens attended Wednesday's standing-room-only meeting of the Skiatook School Board. Photo courtesy: KOTV - The News on Six

Concerned Skiatook parents and other spectators packed into the Skiatook school board meeting room Wednesday. The meeting only lasted five minutes, and the school board made the decision to set a date for a due process hearing for suspended teacher Dennis Curtis.

Curtis says he still hasn't been told why he was suspended with pay. The News on Six reviewed the letter he received from the Skiatook school administration, and it does not list any rules or policies he's accused of violating. The letter says “there is grounds for the suspension based on the school district’s investigation.”

Curtis believes he's being disciplined, because he’s one of the people who gave the locker room videotapes allegedly shot in secret by former Skiatook coach Harry Red Eagle, Junior, to The News on Six. He says he believes other employees would have gone through the proper steps, and would have given the tapes to school administrators. However, with this case, he saw a problem with proper procedure. "We didn't really feel like it would be handled correctly,” Curtis explained. “We went to the media, because we knew once it was out there, it would have to be taken care of and handled."

Skiatook assistant principal Gary Ferguson was also suspended. He was also involved in bringing the videotapes to The News on Six. He is required to send the Skiatook school board a letter within 10 days, asking for a due process hearing. Ferguson says he has been given a list of allegations against him, and he denies all of them.

The hearings will allow each of the men to tell their side of the story to the school board. The board will weigh that information against the superintendent's recommendation to dismiss both men.

The majority of the spectators at Wednesday’s school board meeting told News on Six crime reporter Lori Fullbright that they support the suspended teachers. Many of them said they want an outside, neutral party to step in and mediate the situation. They are urging other parents to call the office of state school superintendent Sandy Garrett in Oklahoma City and express their opinion.