Oak Hill Board of Education split on Hale’s superintendent, coaching positions


Oak Hill girls basketball coach and district superintendent Doug Hale

Oak Hill Union Local Schools Superintendent Doug
Hale, who is also the girls varsity basketball coach,
still holds both positions as of this morning. The question remains, though, as it did before
Wednesday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Oak Hill Union Local Board of
Education, of whether or not Hale should keep both jobs.

OAK HILL — Oak Hill Union Local Schools Superintendent Doug
Hale, who is also the Oak Hill High School girls varsity basketball coach,
still holds both positions as of this morning.

The question remains this morning, though, as it did before
Wednesday night’s regular monthly meeting of the Oak Hill Union Local Board of
Education, of whether or not Hale should keep both jobs.

Much to the disapproval of the overwhelming pro-Hale crowd inside
the Oak Hill High School
cafetorium, a divided Oak Hill BOE did not make a decision on Hale continuing
as both girls basketball coach and the district’s top administrator.

It was originally believed that a resolution to the matter
could be reached on Wednesday, but instead a special meeting has been announced
for next Thursday, May 28.

“Nothing has changed from today,” said Hale. “I really can’t
get too in-depth about the situation, other than I don’t know where they’re
(Board) at (on the issue). Something involving this situation could come up,
but I’m not apprised of that right now.”

All of that after Wednesday’s much-anticipated meeting,
which was attended by an estimated 70 people and included an approximate
two-and-a-half hour executive session.

In addition, Hale’s brother — Board member Jeff Hale — said
he was resigning from the Board and was beginning that process today.

Due to the family relationship, Jeff Hale cannot ethically
vote on any hiring matter involving his brother, and instead abstains.

He addressed that by resigning, “five voting members can
make that vote.”

“There has not been a decision to make that vote,” said Jeff
Hale. “I made the suggestion that when there are five voting members which can
make that vote, that would probably be most fair. To both the district and the
community. If they (Board) so choose, they could make the motion anytime they
wanted to, and if there was a second they could vote.”

The key number being five, as the Board — excluding Jeff
Hale — is believed to be deadlocked at 2-2 on the issue.

None of the other four Board members publicly stated their
position Wednesday, but Board members Regina Boggs and Mike French both
acknowledged their opposition to Doug Hale continuing in both capacities.

Both believed that by Hale holding both titles, as opposed
to only one, it is simply too demanding and/or time-consuming.

Hale, who was named the district’s interim superintendent in
January, guided the Lady Oaks to the Division III state championship game on
March 21.

But as the offseason began, so did the speculation on
whether or not the BOE wanted Hale to continue to wear both hats.

Hale — in his dozen seasons as the girls coach at Oak Hill —
has 239 victories, part of 354 for his entire coaching career.

Two of those have occurred in the Division III state
semifinals — this past season and five years ago.

Moreover, with the exception of two graduated seniors, the
entire Lady Oaks’ roster from this past season is returning for next year,
including all eight players which played in the state championship tilt.

The Lady Oaks were on hand for the meeting, and were quite
emotional during both the speeches in support of their coach as well the
announcement that no decision had been made.

Hale’s immediate family, which are all part of the Lady
Oaks’ basketball program, were in attendance as well.

His wife and assistant coach, Linda, was one of 11
individuals which publicly addressed the Board in support of Hale.

Hale said in a media interview after the meeting that he
would like to continue as both coach and superintendent.

“I’m ready to accept the challenge of doing both if given
the opportunity,” he said. “With that statement too, I don’t want to offend
anybody which feels I can’t. I’ll come early and stay late, and I’ll always
have the best interest of all kids and all employees in heart as I work through
the day.”

He cited the precedent of Mr. Tom Davis, who is both
superintendent of — and head girls basketball coach in — the East
school district.


Hale was also asked if he was disappointed that no decision
was made.

“I understand the situation, and it is a different, unique
situation,” he said.

Hale’s contract as interim superintendent is through March

All of Oak Hill’s supplemental coaching contracts are
one-year contracts.

“I love this district and appreciate them allowing me to
build my professional career here, to raise my children here and to be employed
here,” said Hale, a 1978 graduate of Oak Hill and former star athlete in four
sports at the school.

He also appreciated the enormous outpouring of support from
current and past players, as well as community members.

“To notice the work ethic and the things that we’ve done,
that’s greatly appreciated,” said Hale. “I want to thank those folks.”

All 11 individuals spoke in support of Hale being able to
perform both duties.

Not a single individual spoke against him.

“You won’t find a better person who can handle both jobs,”
said community member Chuck Miller.

“Doug Hale can do both jobs, and do both jobs well,” added
Dale Rawlins. “He graduated with a 3.94 GPA in high school and was all-state in
football, basketball and baseball. The guy can multi-task. When it comes time
for him to be superintendent, he will be superintendent. And we already know
how good of a coach he is.”

Among the other speakers were current Lady Oak Taylor
Butler, former Lady Oaks Kaylin Marshall and Ashley Malone, and community
members Danny Butler, Amy Kiser and Wallace “Wally” Hatfield.

Hatfield is the father of the late Janie Hatfield, who
passed away in September after her lengthy battle with cancer.

Hatfield would have been a freshman for the Lady Oaks this

All of the speeches drew loud applause from the audience.

was the most emotional, and Kiser’s remarks to the Board were brief but blunt.

“Your position (Oak Hill BOE) is an elected position. With
all of the support here tonight for Doug, it’s common sense,” she said.

But a vote to hire Hale — or anybody else — as girls
basketball coach for next season was not taken.

As a result, some of the audience members openly voiced
their disapproval with the Board prior to adjournment.

Citing the Board meeting agenda, all of the supplemental
positions to be hired — which were subsequently hired on Wednesday — included a
name to accompany them except the following:

• varsity girls basketball coach

• assistant varsity girls basketball coach

• junior varsity girls basketball coach

• junior high girls basketball coach (2 positions)

• varsity volleyball coach

• assistant junior high football coach

Regularly, the superintendent recommends coaching candidates
to the Board for hire, but Hale can not recommend himself.

Board President Aaron Michael said “that we have all
well-intentioned people working on this, including Mr. (Doug) Hale. It’s
definitely been a difficult issue.”

And remains an issue after Wednesday night.

* * *

Jackson County Times-Journal staff writer David Coyan
contributed to this story.


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