An investigation by Chiles High School administrators into a complaint lodged against the school’s football coach, Kevin Pettis, has determined that the allegations – which included bullying and the use of demeaning language – were not confirmed. The finding was based on nine surveys completed by randomly selected football players and interviews of adults affiliated with the program.
However, several parents of Chiles High School football players have concerns about how the investigation was handled. One of the concerns is related to the fact that the football player survey was not anonymous. The parents believe this kept players from truthfully answering questions and others from participating.
Parents also believe the four day investigation was rushed and did not give fair consideration to the detailed complaints.
In a letter dated January 21, 2021, Leon County Schools Assistant-Superintendent Alan Cox informed Superintendent Rocky Hanna and the Leon County School Board about the complaint against Mr. Pettis and other coaches and the subsequent investigation.
The complaints, submitted anonymously to school officials, address 17 specific allegations which include verbal abuse of players, excessive use of foul language, “fat shaming”, physical abuse, and attacking an athlete’s perceived sexual preference.
The complaints were submitted in the form of detailed letters written by concerned parents.
Cox stated in the letter to school officials that he turned the complaint over to Chiles High School Principal Joe Burgess and requested an immediate investigation into the allegations. Coach Pettis was hired as Chiles football coach in 2017 while Burgess was the principal.
An investigation was conducted and the results were submitted to Mr. Cox on January 11th.
The results of the investigation indicated that answers from nine surveys “universally contradict the accusation” in the complaint. However, what was not mentioned in the letter by Assistant Superintendent Cox was that one survey provided answers that were consistent with a number of the allegations in the complaint.
Cox also wrote that the findings indicate that no person affiliated with the football program confirmed the allegations in the complaint and that Coach Kevin Pettis and other coaches denied all allegations.
Parents of the football players who have made the allegations contend that the survey was not anonymous, despite assurances from school officials. TR verified the first question on the survey asked for the name and phone number of the player filling out the questionnaire.
The parents contend that players did not answer the questions honestly because of possible repercussions from being identified and players who did have complaints chose not to participate.
There are also concerns that the selection of the nine players was not random and that there were attempts to encourage players to provide answers favorable to Coach Pettis.
Assistant Superintendent Cox, at the end of his January 21st letter, stated that “I strongly encourage anyone with additional information to come forward.”
At the end of March, four surveys from Chiles football players were voluntarily submitted anonymously. The surveys were consistent with the allegations contained in the complaints. However, the information provided in the additional surveys have yet to result in any action from school officials.
TR has reached out to Assistant Superintendent Alan Cox and will update the story when more information becomes available.