Skiatook coach gives resignation

Friday, August 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SKIATOOK, Okla.-- The Skiatook school board on Thursday accepted the resignation of a girl's basketball coach after a tape from a hidden video camera in the girls' locker room was aired by The News on Six.

Harry "Noonie" Red Eagle Jr. had submitted his resignation Tuesday, a day after portions of the tape were aired. The resignation was accepted at a special meeting where board members made no comments and took none from angry school patrons.

Asked why the board had accepted the resignation when much of the community wanted Red Eagle fired, board President Gary Butler said: "No charges have been filed." Asked if the board's hands were somewhat tied, Butler replied "possibly".

Harry Red Eagle Sr., Skiatook's superintendent and the younger Red Eagle's father, was not at the meeting. Stephanie Gruenwald, a student's parent, said that "by letting him resign, he still has his teaching credentials to go on to another school." Gruenwald invited anyone interested in joining a civil rights lawsuit against the school and the Skiatook Police Department to see her after the meeting.

Gruenwald said she was "appalled" when she saw the video tape, "but I've been telling the school board for several years that things were going on that weren't quite right -- sexual things."

The group also said they were angry that Harry Red Eagle Jr. hasn't apologized to the girls or their parents. They're also angry at the elder Red Eagle's televised comment that he was concerned for his son's career, they said. They were concerned about the girls' lives, they said, adding that "they didn't do anything wrong."

Rumors have been circulating about the tape for two weeks, said Leah Villanella, a parent of three school-age girls. She said she and her husband spoke with an attorney last week before the tape was aired, "but someone beat us to it."

Police have said their investigation has been hampered somewhat by the tape's being submitted to the media before it was handed over to authorities. However, Carolyn Williams, news director for The News on Six, said that after making copies of the tape, station personnel took it to the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office, which in turn notified the Skiatook police. She says police had the tape in hand before it aired.