By MARINA WATERS
A month before David Crockett High School’s head football coach and the school’s athletic director were put on administrative leave, an educator and former assistant football coach was also suspended.
James Anderson was suspended without pay on Sept. 5 pending an investigation by the school system regarding the misuse of school funds.
Anderson’s name was obtained from public records after allegations arose regarding the mishandling of athletic funds from a football fundraiser. This came after Coach Gerald Sensabaugh was put on leave for unprofessional conduct and director Josh Kite was also suspended following allegations from Sensabaugh’s charge that Kite offered him prescription drugs.
A summary report from a 2017 football program fundraiser says 30 punch-card tickets were unaccounted for and that $1,640 of the $9,000 that was to be deposited for the program is missing.
Washington County Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton said after DCHS athletic director Josh Kite discovered a discrepancy in the fundraiser results, he informed Sensabaugh and head principal Peggy Wright.
“We put Mr. Anderson on administrative leave pending an investigation and that’s where we are right now,” Halliburton told the Herald & Tribune. “We don’t know what this investigation is going to lead to. It could be that it’s just a big misunderstanding, it could be that it’s not. That’s why it’s under investigation. This is what we’re trying to attempt: Where are the tickets or where is the money?”
In a written explanation from Anderson, he said he gave about 30 of the cards away. He also said he tried to pay for the tickets, but that when the bookkeeper brought the money to Wright, the principal said she was advised by Washington County Attorney Tom Seeley to not accept the money.
“I never personally benefitted from any fundraiser that I was involved with previously for the 2017 football season,” Anderson said. “The people I gave passes to either did not have the money to purchase a pass or had helped the program in the past and was a way to say thank you for what the person had done.”
Anderson said in his statement that at one point, some players were having difficulty selling the punch cards.
“There was a stretch before spring football that they were not selling,” Anderson said. “I had players come to me during this time and say that they were not able to sell them. I was told by one parent that they were worried that their son would not get to play if he did not sell all 20.”
Halliburton said the issue had nothing to do with the physical container or handling of the money. She also said Anderson’s attorney will be meeting with Seeley regarding the investigation and that the school system has turned the matter over to the state comptroller’s office.
Anderson’s suspension came a few weeks before Sensabaugh and Kite were put on administrative leave pending an investigation that will be conducted by an outside firm.
Halliburton said the school system addressed the Anderson issue immediately.
“We don’t make a big announcement. We try to protect the privacy of our personnel as much as we can,” Halliburton said. “It’s not that we have anything to hide, it’s just that we’re certainly not going to call up the press and say, ‘We put a teacher on administrative leave.’ Because you are innocent until proven guilty. There’s just some questions that need to be answered by Mr. Anderson. And we’re in the process of doing that.”