PECKHAM, Okla. - Less than a week after sexual abuse allegations against the Peckham School superintendent were made public, the school board met for the first time to address his position.
The Peckham Board of Education voted unanimously to appoint Johnie Decker as the interim. She has worked for Peckham Schools for 22 years and was previously the assistant superintendent under Gary Young.
Young became the center of several sexual abuse allegations Thursday after the Oklahoma Board of Education voted to suspend his superintendent certificate. The application for the suspension revealed allegations against Young going back as far as at least 2009. The allegations were made by former students and teachers.
"As of Thursday of last week, our district does not legally have a superintendent. I or any other member of the board cannot comment on any of the allegations or the investigation that’s occurring with regard to the allegations," said board president Kim Case in a statement when she along with board vice president Barclay Locke, and board clerk Maribeth Ratliff met for a special school board meeting Wednesday. "I understand that our constituents have questions, and I would like to let everyone know that as of last Thursday, when the superintendent certificate was suspended by the state Board of Education, the superintendent cannot legally serve as superintendent, nor can he receive any compensation from the district. I would also like to ask that since the media’s here that they stay where they are and don’t move around during the meeting."
The meeting lasted less than two and a half minutes.
"On the advice of our attorney, we’re going to not go into executive session. We’re going to skip down to item 4E, the discussion and possible board action to employ a superintendent or interim superintendent," Case said before they named Decker.
Afterward, neither Decker nor any of the board members would comment.
However, other staff members, including newly appointed treasurer Randi Easley, expressed sadness and frustration they've felt since the allegations surfaced last week.
"I would just like to say that that doesn’t reflect on our school staff," Easley said. "We have an awesome community, we have an awesome school, we have some awesome families in our school."
She and another staff member and parent said that they didn't know anything about the allegations until the story broke Thursday. Since then, they said it's been difficult to face an upset and confused community.
"A lot of the negative commentary that has been said doesn’t reflect on any of us," Easley said. "We are all very excited to start school next week, we’re excited to see our students, and we are excited to see our work friends."
So far, a criminal investigation into the allegations against Gary Young has not resulted in charges.