PHS coach submits resignation

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital

Pawhuska Board of Education members voted Monday to accept the resignation of a first-year high school basketball coach who was suspended pending a possible public hearing on the local superintendent’s recommendation to terminate his contract.

Earlier in the meeting, the local school district recognized its Honor Teachers for this year. They are:

• Sharon Hendren, a first-grade teacher at Indian Camp School;

(The award to Mrs. Hendren was delayed due to a scheduling conflicts involving one of the presenters.)

• Pawhuska Elementary fourth-grade teacher Lynn Fuller; and,

• Sarah Kendrick, a science teacher at Pawhuska High School.

Fuller has been a local educator for 38 years. When she was introduced at the meeting, a show of hands indicated that around half the teachers, administrators and board members in attendance had children who were taught by Fuller. And, several were her former students.

PHS Principal Joe Sindelar praised Mrs. Kendrick for contributing ideas for improving different facets of the educational experience at the high school.

“She almost always keeps her door open when she’s teaching,” Sindelar said of the science teacher. “Since I’ve been able to hear things she’s telling the kids, I have first-hand knowledge of what a great job she is doing.”

Superintendent Landon Berry met with the board in executive session to discuss the re-employment of building principals (Sindelar at the high school, Byron Cowan at Pawhuska Elementary and Beverly Moore at Indian Camp School. Upon returning to open session, the board had the options of approving re-employment or tabling action on each of the administrators. although some or all could be tabled until a later date.

With regard to Sindelar’s pending resignations as PHS head football coach and the district’s co-athletic director, however, the board could only consider accepting said resignations, according to the agenda. As presented, the resignations are not to become effective until the current school year ends in July.

Superintendent Landon Berry had suspended PHS boys’ basketball coach Chad Kills Crow in early January and had initially proposed termination during a Jan. 7 special meeting of the board. A public hearing had been scheduled for Feb. 29 to allow Kills Crow an opportunity to appear before the board and present his case regarding the termination proposal.

Berry’s original recommendation to terminate Kills Crow was contained in a letter that was shared with the board but not made public. On Feb. 1, the superintendent presented members with a revised letter. When asked if the letter was the same as before “except for the additional page,” Berry answered affirmatively. The board voted to have a copy of the Superintendent’s letter delivered to the suspended coach — along with a “notice letter of due-process rights.”

Kills Crow — a 1994 Pawhuska High graduate and former college head coach — was hired for the position last July and had led the team through the initial eight games of the current season. His suspension was invoked before the Huskies started the 2016 portion of the campaign.

The Huskies have been sent out on the court since Jan. 5 by Mark Frye, a PHS coach for the past 13 years. On Jan. 18, the board had voted in favor of hiring Frye to serve as the team’s interim head coach.

Kills Crow had reportedly been arrested on a public intoxication charge on Dec. 21 — two days after the last game in which he coached the Huskies. That arrest, plus another alcohol-related incident last fall, were suspected to have triggered the superintendent’s action.

On Jan. 19, 2016, the 45-year-old suspended coach was again arrested — this time after a one-vehicle accident a few miles outside town. Kills Crow was taken into custody for driving under the influence of alcohol and careless driving. Later, an alleged incident as he was being booked at the Osage County Jail resulted in the filing of additional charges for assault and battery on a corrections officer and placing bodily fluids on a government employee. Court proceedings in those cases are pending.

Kills Crow served as head basketball coach at Haskell Indian Nations University from 2010 through the end of of the 2014-15 season. He had been an assistant at the Lawrence, Kan. college since 2009.

District hiring recommendedations were presented for: a) a long-term, certified substitute teacher for the high school a custodian/bus driver c) a long-term, certified Math substitute teacher for the high school; c) a custodian/bus driver for the remainder of the current school term.

A 2016-17 school calendar was approved. Berry said it was very similar to this year’s calendar except that classes are to begin around one week earlier and conclude slightly earlier, as well. A committee considered some other proposals before choosing option No. 2.

The board also approved the superintendent’s recommendation to renew the district’s agreement with thge Osage County Interlocal Cooperative education program. Action was taken in rapid order after Berry informed members that co-op officials had agreed to waive the annual fee for the district’s membership in the cooperative. (The fee was reported to have been in excess of $11,000, the superintendent said.

Board members approved re-approving the audit contract for the district’s auditing firm — Sanders, Bledsoe and Hewitt discussion of contract for audit. The annual renewal of GGFA Indian policies and procedures were also approved.