District releases pantsing report

According to an investigator’s report, Central Kitsap High School girls basketball coach Denise Baxter received little more than an oral warning from school administrators for pantsing a junior varsity player during practice last year.

Kristiana Farris O’Brien, a Seattle attorney hired by the district to investigate complaints against Baxter, interviewed high school and district administrators, parents; current and former girls basketball players during the week of Jan. 20. The 61-page report was issued Jan. 28. “There appears to be ongoing dissatisfaction among some parents and some players with the coaching program in general; however, allegations of misconduct (other than the single pantsing incident) were not substantiated,” O’Brien concluded.

In February 2003, the sophomore who was pantsed said the JV team and varsity team were practicing at the opposite ends of the court. Baxter was watching the varsity team and the student was practicing with the JV team. The student had her back to the varsity team when Baxter came up behind her and pulled her pants down.

“Everyone was laughing and rolling on the floor,” the player told O’Brien. The player said she pulled her pants up and went on with practice. She claimed Baxter said, “It’s OK, you have a cute butt anyway,” when she was leaving practice. Another player remembered a remark being made about her tan.

In her statement to the investigator, Baxter said she was shocked to see the player was not wearing Spandex under her shorts. Had she known the player was not wearing Spandex, she would have never pulled her pants down. Baxter said she did not recall making the other comments during the incident. Afterwards she apologized to the student several times and offered to call the girl’s parents. The student said it wasn’t necessary and she thought it was funny, Baxter said.

John Cervinsky, CKHS principal, said that for the past four years parents have brought complaints to him concerning Baxter’s communication. She was called “unapproachable” by parents after the 2002-2003 season and the school hired assistant coach Laurie Stearns.

The pantsing did not come to his attention until June 2003, he told investigators. The school’s athletic director John Sitton and vice principal Franklyn MacKenzie handled the matter, he told O’Brien.

Sitton said he had heard about the incident from MacKenzie and both men met with Baxter. He told her the incident “should never occur again” and that they all agreed it was not appropriate. Baxter was interviewed Jan. 26 at the Jenne Wright administration building and was accompanied by Christi McCorkle, CKEA president.

Baxter told O’Brien the pantsing was “a terrible misjudgment on her part and she wished she could take it back.”

The district has since closed the investigation, taking no further disciplinary action.

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