Three Crockett employees on leave, accusation keep coming

Nathan Baker • Updated Oct 11, 2017 at 11:24 PM

With multiple employees on administrative leave and accusations still flying, Washington County Schools will hire an independent attorney to sort out a mess in the athletics department at David Crockett High School.

Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said Wednesday the outside firm would investigate serious accusations lodged by and against head football coach Gerald Sensabaugh, then make recommendations to her for action.

The latest accusations came from Sensabaugh Tuesday during a meeting with administrators, during which he was placed on indefinite administrative leave. At that meeting, the coach claimed a Crockett staff member mishandled money from concessions sales during the summer.

Halliburton said Sensabaugh complained the money was put in a grocery bag instead of a locking bank bag while the district’s bookkeeper was unavailable. None of the money was missing, the director claimed, but Sensabaugh took issue with the unsecure manner in which it was stored.

“It appears every time we call him in to correct some concerns about him, he makes a new allegation about another staff member,” Halliburton said.

On Oct. 6, Sensabaugh was called in for a meeting with Crockett Principal Peggy Wright, Athletic Director Josh Kite and other administrators to receive a letter of guidance, a disciplinary measure admonishing him for using profanity against players and for practicing an injured student.

The letter also directs Sensabaugh to remove photos from his Sept. 22 visit to Jonesborough Elementary School showing students’ faces. District policy requires parental approval before photos of students can be published.

Halliburton said at that meeting, Sensabaugh was agitated and accused Kite of coming to work under the influence of Oxycodone, a prescription opioid, and said Kite offered him pills.

Because of those allegations, Kite was placed on administrative leave on Oct. 9, pending the outcome of the attorney’s investigation.

Halliburton seemed to stand by Kite, despite the claim of drug abuse.

“There is no evidence to support that Josh Kite has ever offered a drug to Coach Sensabaugh or anyone else,” she said.

On Oct. 7, Sensabaugh made a public post about the meeting on his Facebook page, a platform where he’s voiced a number of concerns he has with the school district.

“As they read off a bunch of he say, she say allegations that were for the most part a lie, I felt that I was being attacked,” he wrote before detailing the drug abuse accusations he levied against Kite, without naming the athletic director on Facebook.

“Somebody better start agreeing to this positive change I'm trying to bring to this community or this recording will be all over the place,” he continued, mentioning a recording he made of the meeting. “These kids deserve better!!!!!!”

Since receiving the admonishment from district administrators, Sensabaugh has said claims he practiced an injured player were not true.

“They’re completely false,” he said Tuesday during a rally of students and parents supporting him in the parking lot of the district’s central offices in Jonesborough. “It’s misleading information, they trying to support what they want it to be.”

Sensabaugh said the player in question put on his cleats and attempted running exercises with a trainer’s permission. He did not practice in full gear, the coach insisted.

Another investigation related to the team has been turned over to the state comptroller’s office.

According to Halliburton, Kite discovered money missing after a football fundraiser and reported it to Crockett’s principal.

The person handling the money, whom Halliburton did not identify, was placed on administrative leave and has hired an attorney.

On Oct. 8, Sensabaugh again posted on Facebook to detail a season pass fundraiser drive for the team that resulted in $1,500 missing out of $9,000 raised.

“If this happened at a strong athletic program I'm sure somebody would had been made a example out of (but you know how the "Good Ol Boys" do), slap them on the wrist and pawn the problem to another school,” he wrote. “I thought to myself if they are stealing $1,500 I would hate to see what happens with the big money.”

With three staff members already on leave, Halliburton said the employee Sensabaugh accused of improperly storing the concessions money was not suspended. Halliburton also declined to name that person.

“Where do you draw the line?” she asked “Do you put everybody on administrative leave, so that you don’t have enough employees to run the school? Just because someone says something doesn’t make it factual.”

Since the team was barred from practicing Monday, and Sensabaugh’s suspension Tuesday, parents, players and members of the community have rallied to support him.

At a rally Wednesday afternoon in the central office parking lot, the coach put pressure on the county Board of Education to reinstate him.

For a called meeting, the board must first give adequate public notice for the meeting.

Three school board members, Jack Leonard, David Hammond and Phil McLain, said Wednesday afternoon there had been no such meeting called.

Leonard, the board’s chair, said Sensabaugh was an at-will employee of the district, and the school board could not overrule a personnel decision by Halliburton.

**ADVISORY** Some of the documents below include strong language.

Gerald Sensabaugh Letter of Guidance Oct 5 by jcpressdocs on Scribd

Gerald Sensabaugh Letter of Reprimand Oct 9 by jcpressdocs on Scribd

Josh Kite Notice of Suspension Oct 9 by jcpressdocs on Scribd

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