A former coach who pleaded guilty to beating up a Sterlington High School Student last year was transferred to West Monroe High School, because the teacher posed “no risk” to student safety, the superintendent says.
Goode, 39, was arrested in April 2017 for beating up Chandler Jones, a Sterlington High School student, and providing Jones and other Sterlington youth with alcohol. According to Jones, Goode beat him up and called him an expletive for not holding his liquor. Several witnesses confirmed Jones’ account.
Ouachita Parish Schools Superintendent Don Coker told The Ouachita Citizen earlier this week the school system spent more than 40 hours investigating Goode’s conduct. Goode has been a school system employee for 10 years and currently works at West Monroe High School as a classroom teacher, according to Coker.
“It was determined that his continued employment posed no risk to the safety of our students,” Coker said in a prepared statement.
In his prepared statement, Coker addressed the “allegations” against Goode, though Goode entered a no contest plea of guilty to simple battery of Jones in July 2017. A restraining order prohibits Goode from having contact with Jones, who was 16 at the time. The restraining order remains in effect until July 2019.
Last week, The Ouachita Citizen published an extensive news report about the incident, based on arrest reports by several Ouachita Parish sheriff’s deputies, court records and testimony offered during an Aug. 9 hearing before the Louisiana State Police Commission. At the conclusion of the Aug. 9 hearing, the State Police Commission agreed to send a letter to the Ouachita Parish School Board, expressing outrage that Goode was still an employee in the school system in light of the violent incident last year.
In his remarks to The Ouachita Citizen, Coker claimed the newspaper failed to include the school system’s “side of the story,” though he declined to explain what that perspective entailed, citing state laws preventing the disclosure of personnel matters.
Goode could not be reached to answer whether he would allow the school system to release any records the school system may possess related to its investigation of the incident involving Goode and the students.
“It’s all personnel information,” said Coker, of the school system’s internal investigation. “We’re not planning on releasing it. You can’t get it. Nope, can’t get it.”
“I’m sorry you wrote that story,” Coker added. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t tell our side of the story and all the work we had done. It was real one-sided, and created a tremendous amount of trouble for us.”
School Board President Jerry Hicks pointed out that education reforms under former Gov. Bobby Jindal in 2012 limited the School Board’s involvement in personnel matters. Thanks to the revision of education laws in 2012, the superintendent and school principals are the final authority in all personnel decisions, not members of the local school board.
“As the School Board, we don’t have anything to do with personnel,” Hicks said. “It’s all the superintendent and the principal.”
“We only have one. We hire and fire the superintendent. That’s the only person,” Hicks added.
Coker’s full statement to the newspaper is reprinted below.
“Members of the press have inquired about the employment of Mr. Jack Goode, a teacher with our district. We wish to confirm that Mr. Goode is employed as a teacher only and does not coach. State law prohibits us from discussing the details of any personnel matter, and our district complies with that law. At the same time, we can advise that Mr. Goode has been employed with Ouachita Parish Schools for ten years. The allegations against him, related to an off-campus incident in April 2017, were thoroughly investigated by the district in cooperation with other local agencies. It was determined that his continued employment posed no risk to the safety of our students.”