RCHS superintendent’s contract bought out at the end of controversial year

Staff photo.

By Joey McWilliams

BOKCHITO – The Rock Creek school board meeting for June was well-attended – as have been many recently. And its conclusion also marked the conclusion of the tenure of the school’s superintendent.

Education presented by Workout Anytime

The board voted unanimously to accept a proposed settlement agreement in regard to an irrevocable resignation submitted by Superintendent Preston Burns.

As such, Burns will receive a buyout for the salary of the 2019-2020 school year. The discussion of this decision took place in executive session and that amount was not disclosed during the remainder of the school board meeting. However, according to OK.gov, the amount to be paid to the Rock Creek superintendent for the 2018-2019 school year was $118,001. (Note: This amount is fifth of eight superintendent salaries in Bryan County.)

Controversy has been at the forefront of conversation in the district throughout the year. Much of it derives from the perceived inaction of the superintendent in regard to incidents with the high school basketball coach.

The issue stems from an event in December 2018 in which it has been alleged Craig Andrus, the boys basketball coach, showed videos to his classes, including junior high classes, that were ‘vulgar, sexually explicit and degrading.’ Other allegations were also levied against Andrus in regard to inappropriate classroom behavior. When parents of the students and other parents looked to the administration to deal with this situation and others regarding the coach, they said they were not satisfied with the results.

Parents have also stated that Burns has not been readily available, or available at all, to address the issue and has not returned phone calls.

Those concerned with the issue have tried to address it in school board meetings for months. Ramon and Alyssa Anguiano and Elizabeth Thompson were placed on the agenda on the Jan. 28 board meeting. They were given five minutes to speak to the board regarding concerns that had grown and were continuing to grow.

At that time, the school board followed the rules stated in the notice it must post according to the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act: “The school board may vote to approve or disapprove, vote to table, adopt, reject, reaffirm, rescind or take no action on any agenda matter.” Andrus remained in the classroom and on the sidelines.

The Mustangs’ boys basketball team reached the Class 2A state semifinals and finished the season with a 26-4 record.

Andrus has an emergency teaching certificate, which is used to fill a teaching position when an appropriately certified person may not be available. The State Department of Education informed Andrus that it would be filing to seek revocation of the certificate, which it did in April. (This has since been dismissed, as the certification would expire at the end of the school year, and the revocation process could be lengthy.)

In the school board meeting in March, the school board (in a split vote) voted to rehire Andrus as a coach, but not as a teacher.

The issue as a whole has caused a major divide among people involved in the district, a district in which the athletic program receives much attention.

Lane Jackson, a parent of two Rock Creek students and former coach at the school, addressed the board at a meeting on May 28, saying that there is never a wrong time to do what is right, but at some point the members were going to have to say this is enough.

“We reached the point that the conduct of the employees of this school has caused 21 kids to move out in the last two weeks. There are fourth- and fifth-generation families that have shown you they have lost all faith in this school.

“What does it take? Some of you have been elected multiple times because the people in this community have faith in you. They did. And they’re trusting you to take care of their children, not to say that you can’t do anything. Yes, you can. It all stops with you five men right here.”

School board member Myron Wilson expressed his thoughts in that meeting saying that bad decisions had been made and that consequences were being felt.

“As a board member, I think this needs to end,” Wilson said. “The school is losing respect.

“And as long as there is, and this has been stated, that coaches should be allowed to play by different standards and different rules than the rest of the staff, that’s an issue that’s not going to fly. And I think that’s what we’ve gotten into here.”

The financial implications for the district for the upcoming school year are daunting. Not only is the district on the hook for Burns’ salary, but Rock Creek will also have to hire another superintendent – and pay this person.

But there is more. The perceived inaction of the superintendent, and by extension the school board, has come at a cost to the enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year. The number of students to have withdrawn is thought to be more than 30 now. At only 30 students, with the state of Oklahoma spending more $8,700 per student (according to numbers from the National Center for Education Statistics, published by the Tulsa World), the financial hit could be more than $261,000.

Add that to $118,000 for Burns and a number at least similar to $118,000 for the next superintendent and the district has been spotted at least a $497,000 financial hole out of which to dig, before July 1 even rolls around.

And the exodus from the district is not only in the form students, but also teachers and support staff.

The effect is being felt in other sports, as well. With the departure of the students, some to other districts within the county, the roster of the baseball has fallen to just four players and the upcoming season had to be canceled.

Jackson pleaded the cause for his son, a senior in the upcoming school year, who would be playing baseball in the fall. He said he had tried to find a way to transfer him, but couldn’t. And the only way for him to be able to play in the fall would be if the school board canceled the baseball program, which would allow him to play elsewhere through a hardship at his current school.

But he had said that really wasn’t what he wanted.

“I want you to do what is right.”

13 Comments

  1. Donna Williams says:

    Joey McWilliams you need to get the facts straight not from a disgruntled parent. You never set foot in the board meeting. I suggest you get the correct facts.

    • BCP says:

      Thank you for reading the article. I did, in fact, attend more than one board meeting and was given the wrong time to attend another one.
      Also, all of the points in the story are sourced and many have links referring to sources. My opinion is not given in this article.
      Please address any points that are not factual.
      Thank you again.

      • klm says:

        This has been a very divisive issue for the district, which mean there are two sides to the issue. Clearly, this article presents only one side of the story. Where are the quotes from the supporters? Where are the facts that show the other side? An ethical journalist would strive to present an accurate, well-balanced explanation of any story they cover, and they have an obligation to present all sides of an issue. By presenting only one side of the issue, you abandoned your impartiality and violated your ethical responsibility. Maybe your personal opinion wasn’t presented, but your personal viewpoint is evidenced in the clear bias of the article.

  2. Courtney Parker says:

    Very well written article!

    • Brittany says:

      The only ones saying it’s a good article are the ones causing all the trouble!! Lmao what an AWFUL article with such untrue statements. How about you interview the kids because even these parents with such “issues” with coach, their kids have been asked and they loved coach A and a lot of them didn’t want to move. Racist small minded people.

  3. Melisa Joanne Smith says:

    Thank you so much for doing the research and checking numerous sources before writing the story. Sometimes good people make mistakes, but when it comes to our kids, role models are important. The things he did in the presence of maleable kids is deplorable, and the facts needed to be presented to the community even if a few people don’t want to accept the truth. Thank you for your diligence and service to the community!

  4. Taylor says:

    They quote lane Jackson like he’s a credible source and a stand up guy.. he’s already been fired for sexual harassment once and can’t keep a job anywhere he’s been. These are the kind of sources they use

    • Bob says:

      Can you provide any evidence to back this up I would like to write something up myself

      • H says:

        Sorry, Bob. They can’t. They like to dig up anything they can on anyone who disagrees with them. About 15 percent of the community thinks it’s all ok. The rest of us just choose to have more class. Lane has been at his job (a better job than ANYONE at RC schools) for a long time. They’ll try to bury him for defending his child. It’s really sad what these people are doing. They’re a bunch of bullies who like to call the rest of us racist.

    • A says:

      By looking at Coach A’s FB page….neither can he. Pretty sure RC is the only school that has ever renewed his contract.

  5. Patty says:

    Really this is just bs. Idont know what is really the issue but i do believe it boils down to racism!

    • H says:

      Show one ounce of proof of racism. You can easily say it’s racist only because he’s not white. Guess what? Neither am I! You’re the racist for throwing that card. Give this community a break for standing up for what’s right for their kids instead of backing a man who happened to do good his first year as a coach.

  6. G says:

    I’d love for all those that claim that these are lies and that this is a bias article to give ONE example of what’s untrue in here. You DID give a quote from a board member (just not one they liked). If they can give you something solid great. Problem is they’ll just bash things from coaches and teachers long ago (WHY on earth would they not stand up THEN?!?! Why years later and only as a defense mechanism? They’ll dig dirt up on everyone they don’t agree with and talk nonstop about his community service and how much the kids like playing for him. The problem isn’t there. It’s not about the coach. It’s about disgusting pornographic videos being shown to young kids (boys AND girls) in the classroom on the smart board during CLASS time. REPEATEDLY!!! Not once. He apologized when he was there for one week for saying the “F” word 27 times in JH practice. Everyone accepted it but it NEVER stopped. He is a terrible influence. Superintendent should have done something long ago and didn’t. Absolutely NOT ok. He’s black so it’s easy to call those people racist. Come on people. Grow up. Also, Cordell does all that community service too, probably more but he does it because it’s on his heart to do so not to post all over social media and get praise. Get over the community service part. They all do it. It’s great but it doesn’t excuse the ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING classroom behavior.

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