KNOXVILLE (WATE) – South-Doyle High School seniors graduate Tuesday night at Thompson Boling Arena with the school’s embattled principal and head football coach allowed to attend the ceremony.
Both were suspended over their handling of a scandal that personnel files for Tim Berry and Clark Duncan reveal more about. They were put on administrative leave in February and the district attorney decided not to file charges last month, but last week the school district reprimanded both men.
“This is been a difficult time in my life,” said Duncan, who has been on leave for more than three months.
“The decision to place Mr. Duncan on administrative suspension was outrageous,” wrote Duncan’s attorney in a strongly worded eight-page letter to Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre back in February. The letter details the January events surrounding the scandal and repeatedly says the South-Doyle football coach did nothing wrong.Previous story: Wife of former South Doyle assistant football coach charged with statutory rape
The letter lays out the timeline of events, starting when Duncan says a South Doyle teacher told him there was a compromising picture of the wife of one of his assistant coaches on social media and moves to when he found out one of his football players was involved. Kelsey McCarter has been charged with six counts of statutory rape.
The letter also claims that a former student had been blackmailing a teaching assistant on the football staff and his wife with a picture dating back to December 2015. It also says the football player involved was approved to live with the couple. The name of the person who gave approval was redacted.
While Duncan says he can’t talk about what happened, the letter in his file says he immediately called his supervisor, South-Doyle Principal Tim Berry, who was also suspended because of what happened. Duncan said he asked Berry if there was any reporting he needed to do and Berry assured him more than once that Berry would take it from there.Previous story: Suspended South-Doyle administrators to return to work
Berry and Duncan were suspended for not contacting the Department of Children’s Services immediately, but Duncan’s attorney argues that “to believe that every single person down the chain of command (from the secretary to superintendent) bears a responsibility to report, when their direct supervisor assumes the duty and promises to do so, is a standard that is completely unreasonable and horribly wrong.”
“I understand it,” Duncan said of the decision to suspend him. “I don’t agree necessarily agree with it, but I accept and understand it and move forward.”
The letter says that Duncan was a victim of the district’s rush to judgment and that the decision to suspend him severely damaged his reputation.
“Everyone’s concerned about their reputation and I’ve always tried to be honest and be upfront,” he said. “I just didn’t want people to think that I had done something wrong – never intentionally anyway.”
Though the DA’s office decided not to charge Duncan or Berry, McIntyre decided they both have to go through training on reporting requirements and moved them from paid to unpaid administrative suspension last week. That same day, Duncan asked for a letter to be added to his file saying he is happy to attend the training, but that he is disappointed with the decision for further disciplinary measures.
“What happened, happened and I’m just thankful that beginning Monday at 7 a.m I’ll be in the weight room with the players,” said Duncan. “I think this is a situation where an honest mistake was made and I promise you it’ll never happen again.”
McIntyre said he had nothing further to comment on the situation.