Former Ferris High School football coach Jim Sharkey, who was investigated for allegedly exposing himself to students and allowing hazing of his players, will continue to be employed by Spokane Public Schools until at least the summer of 2021.
According to public records obtained Wednesday by The Spokesman-Review, Sharkey signed a suspension and discipline agreement with the district on Aug. 7, agreeing that he will resign on Aug. 31, 2021.
In the meantime, Sharkey is on staff as a fitness teacher at Spokane Virtual Learning, which is housed at the Libby Center.
Under terms of his employment, Sharkey interacts only with students through email with a co-teacher, according to district spokesman Brian Coddington.
The mediated settlement agreement avoids possible legal action by Sharkey, who has not been charged with any crimes.
The district agreed to the deal in part “for the purpose of settling differences between the parties and to avoid future cost and inconveniences,” documents state.
“It was a good resolution all the way around,” said Sharkey’s attorney, Larry Kuznetz, who added that Sharkey’s employment could go beyond 2021 should both parties concur.
As part of the agreement, Sharkey admitted to “engaging in inappropriate comments and behavior toward students while employed by the district.”
Sharkey also expressed “remorse and regret” over his admitted behavior and said that he has not “acted as a positive role model at times in his position as a public school teacher.”
However, the document does not contain any admission that he exposed himself to students during a leadership camp near Cataldo, Idaho, in August 2016, or that he tolerated “juicing,” in which players would gather in a large group on a teammate’s birthday and stick their fingers in the student’s anus, according to school documents released last year.
Sharkey “absolutely denies these allegations,” Kuznetz said.
A player at the camp reported that while Sharkey was grilling hot dogs he placed his penis inside a bun and displayed it to players.
Those records include written notes from Mary Templeton, an administrator with Spokane Public Schools from her meetings with Sharkey in September 2016; emails from parents and students about Sharkey’s alleged behavior; letters to Sharkey from the district; and other documents.
During a meeting with Templeton on Aug. 31, 2016, to discuss the allegations, records state that Sharkey told her, “That is the biggest lie I have ever heard, 100 percent total lie.”
On Sept. 13, Templeton gave Sharkey a written warning, which stated that the district was unable to substantiate either the allegations about drinking or that he exposed himself.
“The District was, however, able to substantiate by your own admission, that there was alcohol consumed in front of students by the camp ‘hosts’ and that at least one camp ‘host’ had unsupervised access to students while under the influence of alcohol,” Templeton wrote.
“The District was able to substantiate that you compromised the safety of students by failing to supervise them appropriately and failing to sufficiently provide for their safety,” he added.
Other allegations stated students at the camp were passengers in vehicles driven by coaches who were under the influence of alcohol.
Sharkey also denied those allegations to school officials but said the ranch hosts were drinking in front of the players at dinner.
Hazing allegations were investigated in the spring of 2017 by the district, but no criminal charges were filed.
“If the kids had said anything that led us to believe there was a criminal act we would have taken the next step,” said Mark Sterk, the SPS director of safety, risk management and transportation.
In June 2017, the Shoshone County Prosecutor’s Office declined to file charges on allegations that Sharkey exposed himself. By then, Sharkey was no longer the football coach at Ferris.
School records show Sharkey was first placed on paid leave starting Feb.1, 2017. Documents at the time said his leave would continue until further notice.
In the spring of 2017, the district opted not to renew Sharkey’s coaching contract.
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