Coach accuses BISD superintendent of lying, prepares for legal b - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Coach accuses BISD superintendent of lying, prepares for legal battle

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Plez Atkins says he considers himself to still be the new head football coach at Ozen High School, even though Beaumont Independent School District superintendent Timothy Chargois, Ed.D withdrew the contract offer from the 39-year-old coach.

Atkins, who was working for the Houston Independent School District was recommended to the board of trustees last Thursday by Dr. Chargois.

The board voted unanimously to approve his hire.

But on Monday 12News revealed that Atkins has lost his teaching license for three years, based on an accusation that he had an improper relationship with a student.

Atkins says the case against him was dropped, when his accuser, who he says was no longer a student when she made her outcry, recanted.

The Texas Education Agency also reinstated Atkins' teaching certificate.

Atkins says he showed proof of that to Chargois, and Chargois seemed fine with it.

However, after our story aired, Atkins says Chargois called him to his office on Tuesday.

Atkins says he had already quit his job with Houston ISD and had started his first day at Ozen.

But he says Chargois asked him to resign.  Atkins says Chargois told him he had not been forthcoming on his application.

Atkins says that's not true, he says he even answered yes to a question asking if he had ever been disciplined or suspended.  He says he filled out the application on February 22nd.

But Board President Gwen Ambres says neither the board trustees nor Chargois knew about the suspension until after the board had already voted to hire him.

Atkins said, "That's definitely 100% not true."

He says Chargois knew the day before the hire, he says Chargois, Human Resources Director Sybil Comeaux, Athletic Director Rodney Saveat and Ozen Principal Odis Norris had all been part of his interview in Chargois office.

But Atkins believes Chargois is lying to cover himself and save his own job.

Atkins says Chargois told him he had to withdraw support for the coach, because Chargois was already under a lot of heat from the community.

Atkins says Chargois mentioned imminent criminal indictments against school personnel, and Atkins also claims Chargois told him this is Beaumont, Texas, where there's too much racial politics and a power struggle between blacks and whites.

Chargois has avoided our calls for comment for days, but Thursday night after a board meeting, answered our questions, although never telling us if he found out about Atkins' suspension before or after the board voted to hire him.

Chargois said, "I'm standing by the fact when I got the information I needed to make that decision, I made it."

But Atkins says he was officially hired, and he's not been officially fired, so he's not backing down.

He says he's hired Austin attorney Tony Conners to represent him.

12News spoke with Mr. Conners.  He said they are demanding that BISD's superintendent issue Atkin's a contract.  He says the district is still bound contractually with Atkins and that there will be legal action against BISD if it backs out.  He said the superintendent was aware of his client's past situation before the job offer was made.

Atkins says when he would ask Chargois about his contract, Chargois kept telling him it would get mailed to him.

Still Atkins says the district paid his entry into a track meet over the weekend, so he could go represent Ozen as athletic coordinator, and Atkins had already even brought two assistant coaches with him from Houston on Tuesday, who Atkins had planned to hire.

This is background on the attorney representing Atkins:

While in law school, Tony Conners clerked for two years with a firm that almost exclusively represented school districts. He began practicing law in New Mexico with Hinkle, Cox, Eaton, Coffield & Hensley in 1989. In 1990, he returned to Austin and associated with Gray & Becker from 1990-1993, where he handled employment cases for individuals and governmental entities, including law enforcement officers, police departments, and counties. In 1993, Tony joined the Texas Education Agency as an Assistant Chief Counsel, overseeing litigation involving the Agency and representing the Agency in employment and special education matters. In 1996, he joined the Brim, Arnett firm, where he continues to represent individuals in employment matters, including public educators and law enforcement officers.

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