NORMAN, Okla. — Community members and parents are speaking out in support of a former middle school assistant teacher and basketball coach after he was allegedly forced to resign following allegations of assault on an opposing team member by one of his players.
"When we had an altercation with Whittier, myself and one of the other coaches had to go into the superintendents office," Darius Henderson told News 4.
Henderson said it's all too familiar.
When he coached middle school basketball for Norman Public Schools, he said the Whittier students sat in the stands yelling at his players.
"They got called things like nappy headed. They got called things like monkey," Henderson said.
He said he ended up in the superintendent's office because his players talked back to the players from Whittier.
"We had to sign letters that basically said, if anything ever happened like that again, we'd be terminated," Henderson said.
Henderson is no longer with Norman Public Schools but, when he heard about what happened to Longfellow former coach Anthony Kendall, it hit close to home.
Back in November during a varsity game against Whittier, an altercation between the players allegedly got heated when a Longfellow player used his finger to penetrate a Whittier player through his shorts, according to the complaint.
Kendall told the Norman Transcript he didn't learn about the alleged incident until the next day and he told district officials "I don't believe so, that couldn't have happened. We don't play like that."
He went on to say he was given the choice to be fired or resign, and he chose resignation.
"He's always been that coach that genuinely cares about the kids. He cares about more than just their athletic ability. He cares about how are you doing at home. How are your grades," Henderson said.
Henderson said a lot of parents feel that way, and that's why they're standing behind Kendall.
Officials with Norman Public Schools sent us this statement on behalf of Dr. Nicholas Migliorino:
“We appreciate the parents who have voiced their concerns, and we understand their support of this individual. We take situations like this very seriously, and it is a top priority that all of our students feel safe and secure at school or while participating in school-sponsored events. While we are not able to provide specific information about confidential personnel matters, it is our practice that, when we learn of an allegation or complaint, we take immediate action to investigate. In some cases, employees choose to resign to avoid a full investigation, suspension or the possibility of being terminated by the Board of Education. As always, my door is open to parents who may wish to meet with me individually to discuss how to best support their child as we move forward.”