POCATELLO – The former coach of the Pocatello High School girls’ basketball team is challenging her dismissal after school officials learned that a photograph posted on her Facebook page showed the school’s male football coach touching her clothed chest.
Laraine Cook, who also worked as a substitute teacher in local schools, was fired by School District 25 officials last month, and school administrators now say they are also seeking to have her teaching certificate revoked by the State Board of Education.
Cook has now hired an attorney and is appealing her dismissal through the collective bargaining grievance process. She contends the punishment from the district, including pursuing revocation of her teaching certificate, is too harsh considering the circumstances.
“I spent four-plus years earning that degree,” Cook told The Idaho State Journal in a story published Friday. “That’s something I take a lot of pride in. To have that taken away for one picture, that’s hard. I’m a little frustrated by it.”
Meanwhile, her fiance, Tom Harrison, who was pictured touching her bikini-clad chest and is an Idaho High School Football Hall of Fame coach, remains with the school as the head football coach. Harrison has said he was reprimanded by school officials.
District officials declined to comment to the newspaper about the appeal or efforts to have Cook’s license revoked. In the days after firing Cook, district officials also rejected an appeal to reverse the decision after meeting with parents of girls on the basketball team.
“We are not saying another thing,” said Shelley Allen, spokeswoman for the district.
The photo was taken during a family reunion in July. It shows Harrison and Cook in an embrace, with one of Harrison’s hands on Cook’s chest.
Cook said she removed the image shortly after it was called into question by the school’s athletic director.
The district does not have a social media policy, the newspaper reported.