Tahlequah Public Schools Board of Education members Monday and accepted the resignation of a baseball coach arrested earlier this month on alcohol and drug charges.

First Assistant District Attorney David Pierce also confirmed Monday his office will file charges against Bret Russell Hamby, 49, who had served as baseball coach for the Tahlequah Tigers.

“We do have a report on Bret Hamby and we anticipate filing charges on driving under the influence of alcohol and possession of marijuana,” Pierce said.

Both charges will be filed as misdemeanors in Cherokee County District Court.

Hamby was stopped during an Oklahoma Highway Patrol roadblock July 5 and booked into the Cherokee County Detention Center on suspicion of DUI, possession of marijuana, and possession of a controlled drug without a valid prescription.

Pierce doesn’t anticipate filing charges for the prescription pills at this time.

“He has indicated he has a prescription,” Pierce said.

Hamby has not yet provided information on the prescription to his office, however.

Hamby had submitted a letter of registration to the school district, and it was on the board’s agenda for the July special meeting, when board members typically make some last-minute personnel decisions before the beginning of the school year.

His resignation, along with another, plus employment of eight certified and support personnel, two transfers and one reassignment, were on the agenda for discussion during executive session.

On emerging from the executive session, which lasted about a half hour, Board President Tim Baker said the board discussed personnel and negotiation issues. The board approved all the personnel matters, including Hamby’s resignation, without further comment.

However, the board members did have quite a bit to say about corporal punishment before the executive session, as they approved the proposed student handbooks for elementary, middle and high school students.

Under the new handbooks, corporal punishment officially became a thing of the past.

Board member Anne Cottrill questioned eliminating it entirely as a disciplinary tool.

“For the high school, I have no problem with [eliminating] it, but having been there with those little kindergartners and first-graders, a little swat is all it takes and then they’re Student of the Month the next month,” she said.

Superintendent of Schools Shannon Goodsell said the decision to eliminate corporal punishment came on advice from state school organizations, because of possible legal ramifications.

Baker asked Goodsell if there have been any complaints or threatened lawsuits stemming from corporal punishment.

Goodsell said when he was principal in another district, he administered two swats to a student, with the mother’s permission, and with a counselor observing the action. Later, after school, another boy got a switch and beat the child on the legs, raising welts.

“The next morning, I had mama in my office, DHS in my office, and mama had legal counsel,” he said.

That issue was resolved, but eliminating corporal punishment would ward off situations in the future, he said.

Baker isn’t totally opposed to corporal punishment.

“I like it from the standpoint that it’s out there as an option. The death sentence, even if it’s not used too often, is out there,” he said.

Board member Tony Boyle asked if it would be possible to let the parent come to the school and administer the corporal punishment. Goodsell said that could also lead to problems if the parent became overzealous when spanking the child.

“We don’t have the authority to allow someone to abuse a child,” Baker said.


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