2 resign, 2 suspended in sex abuse probe at Oklahoma school

August 26, 2021 GMT

NINNEKAH, Okla. (AP) — Two members of an Oklahoma school board resigned and two school leaders were suspended in connection with a sexual abuse scandal.

The Ninnekah Public Schools Board of Education accepted resignations on Wednesday from board President Rusty Garrett and clerk Scott Miller, and voted to suspend Ninnekah Public Schools Superintendent Todd Bunch and high school Principal David Pitts.

The resignations and suspensions come after 15 former basketball players, including three women who came forward this week, said they were suing the school district, Bunch, Pitts and other former school employees. They contend district leadership and staff knew or should have known about the alleged sexual harassment and abuse by former basketball coach Ronald Gene Akins, according to The Oklahoman.

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Under state law, all school employees are considered mandatory reporters and must notify the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and local law enforcement if they have reason to believe a student under 18 is a victim of abuse or neglect.

Garrett’s wife, Tammara Garrett, a defendant in the lawsuit, told Grady County investigators she had heard rumors of Akins’ alleged sexual impropriety with students while she was a school employee but didn’t believe it because she was a friend of the coach, according to sheriff’s office records.

Akins, 54, has been charged in Grady County District Court with two counts of felony sexual battery and two counts of felony rape by instrumentation.

The Oklahoma State Department of Education said it will discuss the matter in executive session during its monthly meeting Thursday but indicated Ninnekah’s standing as a school district could be in jeopardy.