Kohala’s Chad Atkins received a letter from principal Amy Stafford informing him that he will not be reinstated to the position of football coach.
The letter, dated Dec. 20, came during Atkins’ struggle to get his job back.
“When I told people about the letter, they said to me, ‘Oh, so you were fired,” Atkins said Thursday.
That was meant in a light-hearted way despite the seriousness of the situation because even though Atkins said he was told by athletic director Laurie Koustik on Halloween that he wasn’t going to be the football coach again next year, school officials tried to say afterwards that he wasn’t actually “fired.”
Semantics aside, if Atkins wants his job back, he does have a chance to get it by reapplying for the position. The Department of Education statewide typically hires athletic coaches on a one-year basis and then after the season notify the coaches if they get another year or that the position is opening up.
Atkins is not sure if he will reapply. He also said he was told that the school is looking at complaints made against Koustik buy some of the football players’ parents. That investigation, Atkins said he was told, is being done in-house by vice principal Trisha Sanborn and not by the DOE district overseers.
According to Atkins, Koustik originally informed Atkins that he was not going to be retained as football coach on Halloween, citing outside complaints against the coach.
Atkins said he was not told of any serious complaints during the football season, in which he led the team to a 3-5 record in its first year back playing 11-man football.
Eventually, Atkins was told — with DOE district personnel along with Koustik and Stafford present — reasons for Koustik’s decision to let him go. Those reasons, in Atkins’ mind, were not serious in nature. Some, he said, were not true, including a charge of bullying.
In a December email to Hawaii Prep World, before Atkins received the letter saying he would not be reinstated, Stafford said concerns about Atkins’ situation were being heard but that she could not discuss details of the matter.
Also in December, Kohala football parent Francine Lactaoen sent a formal complaint signed by a notary to the school, saying that Atkins was wrongfully let go and should be reinstated. Other parents of players, Blaine Duque and Michael Remsen, stood in vocal support of Atkins during December meetings.
In her complaint, Lactaoen also claimed that Koustik failed to positively support the Kohala football team.
There were other grievances written by Lactaoen, including what she, Remsen, Atkins and Duque believe is improper collection of money by Koustik. Twice, Lactaoen said she gave money to Koustik for athletic events and that Koustik put the money in her pocket.
In a side issue at Kohala, one football playing student has filed a police report concerning missing money from the locker room. That matter is being investigated by Big Island police, according to Lactaoen, Atkins, Duque and Remsen.