The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

December 14, 2010

DCLA coach’s past draws concerns

Prior termination for moral turpitude raises questions

LAMONT — Two recent arrests of former Hennessey High School coaches accused of inappropriate relationships with students have some parents at Deer Creek-Lamont High School questioning whether their district exercised due diligence in hiring its newest girls basketball coach.

When Chad Hutchison was announced as the hire for the girls basketball coaching job at DCLA, questions started to arise about his tenure at a previous school district and his termination in 2009 for moral turpitude.

Those questions follow on the heels of recent news regarding former Hennessey High School girls basketball coach Ben Forsythe’s arrest on charges relating to an alleged relationship he had with a student while coaching at Hennessey. The charges came as Forsythe was employed by Texhoma Public Schools after resigning his position at Hennessey. Forsythe was hired by Texhoma after receiving a positive recommendation from Hennessey Superintendent Joe McCulley, who said Forsythe had resigned “for unknown reasons.” And just this past spring, former Hennessey High School baseball coach Mike Conway was charged with second-degree rape, rape by instrumentation and lewd molestation for his alleged relationship with a student. He is awaiting trial.

In Hutchison’s case, questions arose in the Thomas-Fay-Custer school district with allegations he was having an inappropriate romantic relationship with a student he was coaching on the high school cross country team in 2009. Law enforcement  investigated the allegations, and although the district attorney declined to pursue charges, the school district fired Hutchison for moral turpitude.

Several parents have questioned DCLA’s hiring of Hutchison over the summer despite his termination on the grounds of moral turpitude.

The Thomas-Fay-Custer district’s grounds for termination were upheld in a May 27, 2010, federal court ruling — on a lawsuit filed by Hutchison for wrongful termination — wherein U.S. District Judge David Russell cited “overwhelming evidence Hutchison had an inappropriate romantic relationship with a student …” His ruling cited precedent that “a teacher having a romantic relationship with a student, even if it is not a sexual relationship, is contrary to good morals, and amounts to or involves moral turpitude.”

Deer Creek-Lamont patrons Travis Kirby and his wife, Linda Kirmer, were among those concerned about Hutchison’s problems at Thomas-Fay-Custer and decided to do a little digging. What they found in looking through the court documents in Hutchison’s case alarmed them, and they took their concerns to the DCLA school board.

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