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BISD board president blames Human Resources for coach's controversial hiring

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BEAUMONT -

Plez Atkins' tenure as Ozen High's head football coach was possibly the shortest in history.

The Beaumont Independent School District board of trustees voted to accept Superintendent Dr. Timothy Chargois' recommendation Thursday, and voted to hire him unanimously.

But less than a week later, Atkins was out, after a 12 News investigation revealed he had been suspended from teaching after he was accused of an improper relationship with a student while working for the Mansfield Independent School District.

Board President Gwen Ambres said, "You know that was a flag that should have been caught in the vetting process."

Ambres said that even Dr. Chargois did not know.  She said, "The superintendent says he was not aware, he was not aware of this issue, before he made his recommendation and brought that back to the board, he was not aware of it until after the vote had been taken."

But Coach Atkins says he told the district.  He said, "In my interview process, I didn't hide anything, I let it be known."

But Ambres told us she's not sure that the superintendent was actually part of the interview process, I'm not sure."

But district sources say Human Resources Director Sybil Comeaux, Athletic Director Rodney Saveat and Ozen Principal Odis Norris were part of the interview process.  Those same sources confirmed that Comeaux and Saveat knew about Atkins' suspension before interviewing him.

Comeaux has not returned our calls, and Saveat referred us to the district spokeswoman, but all we've received is BISD's policy on background checks.

Atkins said, "The breakdown had to have been in the HR process."

Board Trustee Woodrow Reece said, "Everything's on the table, I mean this should not happen."

He told us he expects answers from Dr. Chargois.  We have been unable to reach Chargois for comment.

Board Trustee Mike Neil posted online that Chargois knew. 

In Facebook's BISD Board Watch, Neil wrote, "He told me that he knew that there was a certification problem that was in the past that had been cleared up. Which means he knew. Even if he only knew that, he should have demanded more answers."

We also contacted Mansfield ISD, they told us BISD never contacted them to ask about the allegations Atkins had faced.

And we asked Ambres, if BISD could get sued by Atkins for its about-face on hiring him.  She said there's no liability since the contract process was never completed.

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