Black Hills High former coach and teacher resigns after district investigation

lpemberton@theolympian.comFebruary 26, 2014 

Former Black Hills High head football coach Dominic Yarrington has resigned from his teaching contract following a district investigation.

TONY OVERMAN — Staff photographer

Tumwater School District’s recent investigation into the behavior of former Black Hills High School head football coach and teacher Dominic Yarrington included a look at racy texts between him and the mom of a player, allegations that the two were caught making out on school property during a football event and complaints that he belittled a student and used inappropriate words in his classroom.

The details were part of a 42-page packet of materials relating to the district’s investigation released Wednesday to The Olympian in response to a public records request.

It includes the former coach’s resignation agreement, which cited “personal reasons” and was signed Tuesday by Tumwater Superintendent Mike Kirby.

As part of the deal, Yarrington, 43, will remain on a paid leave of absence and draw his entire $61,447 salary for the school year. That’s in addition to his $6,306 coaching stipend, and a $2,730.98 bonus of “self-directed days” that the district traditionally pays teachers for work outside of school, such as open house events and meetings.

The district also agreed to continue contributing to his monthly insurance premium through Aug. 31 so that he can receive benefits through Sept. 30.

It notes that district officials will not appeal if Yarrington applies for unemployment, and that the former coach will release and waive all claims and potential claims of any kind against the district that are based on his employment.

“The district feels that the process and the outcome have been appropriate,” spokeswoman Kim Howard said in a statement. “The football coaching position has already been filled by former assistant coach and language arts teacher Kirk Stevens. We are ready to move forward in a positive direction to fill his teaching position.”

The district began looking into the matter after a report of potential inappropriate conduct on school grounds with a parent, Howard said.

According to notes in the investigation, a football player’s dad told district officials that it began Dec. 5 when he heard a prepaid cellphone beeping in his wife’s car after the football team’s end-of-season banquet; he noticed the message was from Yarrington.

Yarrington and the wife were later found in Yarrington’s classroom “involved in heavy petting/makeout session,” according to the investigation.

“A teacher is to uphold higher ethics, and it is just wrong,” the parent told district officials. “He preaches ethics to the kids and does this.”

The wife told district investigators that she and Yarrington were having a conversation about her son.

“There was a hug and quick kiss,” she said. “Nothing else.”

Yarrington stated that the mom texted and asked to meet him in his classroom.

“I said yes, and we talked for about five minutes and then she approached,” the district investigation report states. “Came right up to me and started kissing me.”

The two were together for 15 to 20 minutes, according to the district’s report. The words “heavy petting” were crossed out in the notes from Yarrington’s interview and replaced with “kissing.”

Once the two were caught, Yarrington said that his first thought was “OMG, she set me up,” the investigation states.

He said he asked her what she had done.

“She said she was sorry — didn’t mean for this to happen,” Yarrington told investigators.

The investigation materials also looked into concerns over Yarrington’s work as a social studies and English teacher, including a Sept. 30 complaint from a parent in an email with the subject line “A concerned parent.”

The email was forwarded from Yarrington’s school district account to his wife’s email account with the comment “Here is the crazy bitch.”

The parent wrote, “My daughter left your class because she felt you were belittling, if not outright bullying, her because of her interests about which she is very passionate — this is not the conduct I expect in the classroom, and you are the adult/role model.”

In addition, some handwritten notes with the date Nov. 20 released by the district indicate officials had also looked into Yarrington’s classroom management, including his use of inappropriate words including “retarded” in front of students.

Once district officials announced Yarrington was placed on investigation on Dec. 9, stating they couldn’t say why he was on leave, a firestorm was set.

Rumors flew. Parents sent emails to district officials.

“My son has also been forever (affected) by the hypocrisy and betrayal of Coach Yarrington,” one parent wrote. “… It is my hope that he will not return to Black Hills High School. The damage he has done to the students and the community is unforgivable.”

There’s also an email that indicates a parent told district officials that their son would transfer to Tumwater High School if Yarrington was allowed to return.

“That student-athlete’s family is very supportive, and losing him would be a big hit to our program beyond just football,” the letter stated.

A Dec. 10 email that was released by the district from Spanish teacher Connie Colbeck paints a picture of how the district’s wall of silence on the matter was playing out at Black Hills High School and asks for direction. At that point, district officials said they could only say Yarrington was on leave and under investigation for a “personnel matter” that didn’t rise to the level of police involvement.

In the email, Colbeck asked administrators to give the teachers some guidance on the issue.

"All of the students are talking about it, and we do not even know what to say to them," she wrote. "Our students ask us questions, and tell us things – but none of us have heard from the administration about what to do or what is happening or what to say – we only know what we read and what we hear. Please do not let this be a thing where we are not at least given some type explanation or acknowledgement, or whatever the word is. I know what I am telling you is burning heavily in the hearts of us teachers."

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 <href="mailto:lpemberton@theolympian.com">lpemberton@theolympian.com

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