Oak Ridge coach sues school over firing

Oak Ridge coach sues school over firing

Don Colquitt Don Colquitt

6 News Anchor/Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - A football coach is speaking out after filing a lawsuit against Oak Ridge Schools. Don Colquitt says he was fired after allegations of inappropriate contact with a student and never given a chance to defend himself.

The long-time community football coach says he just wants to clear his name. He says he didn't do anything wrong and his reputation has been ruined. He's suing the school system for more than a million dollars.

Colquitt graduated from Oak Ridge High School in 1983 and always dreamed of coming back to coach football. That dream came true last summer and lasted until Jan. 14 when he was put on administrative leave with pay to "allow for an investigation of a report of an allegation of inappropriate contact with an Oak Ridge High School student."

Colquitt said he knew he hadn't done anything and he tried to find out what the allegation was, but couldn't. 

"You can't defend what you don't know, so I didn't understand that. I didn't understand why I couldn't get what was being said about me because it's a serious issue," he said.

Then on Feb. 17 he was fired. The reason listed was simply "policy violation."

"I have to clear my name. This is not about football. This is not about coaching at Oak Ridge High School. This is about the name Colquitt. My dad gave me a good name and I'm not going to allow anybody to ruin it when I know I haven't done anything," he said.

So he hired a lawyer, still hoping for answers. When none came, they filed a lawsuit for $1.1 million. It
 states Colquitt has sustained damage to his good name, reputation, honor and integrity. 

"If you're guilty, you pack up and move somewhere else, start over. When you're innocent, you stand up and fight," he said.

And, he said, it hurts having to watch from the sidelines as the new football season starts. 

Both the superintendent and the school board chair refused to comment on Colquitt's firing or the lawsuit.

Colquitt has started a fundraising page to pay his legal fees.

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