Fired Ringling school employees speak out
By Kaylee Olivas
RINGLING, Okla. (KFOR) — In February, Ringling High School principal and head football coach Phillip Koons was put on paid leave after several students claimed he verbally abused them and made them exercise nude.
"They don't deserve this at all, which angers me," said former Ringling High school resource officer Joe Wilkerson, who was the initial investigator in the case.
Administrators asked him to look into the case which didn't start out with accusations of abuse by Koons; instead it was for a football player who allegedly made threats against the school.
"The deeper I got into it, the darker it got," Wilkerson said.
That's when students and parents began coming forward, all with a very similar story of abuse.
Victim statements provided to KFOR-TV showed just a glimpse of the information Wilkerson uncovered. Those victims say they were belittled and verbally accosted.
Some of the language used is simply too inflammatory to repeat.
These boys were allegedly forced to strip down and do burpee exercises naked. One of the victims said:
"One of the guys had burns on their private parts from it; they made me feel harassed, exposed and ashamed."
"It's really heartbreaking," Wilkerson said. "These boys are mainly juniors and seniors, and they're having their last years in high school tarnished by this whole ordeal."
As this information was brought to the sheriffs office and exposed to the public, Wilkerson said he was kicked to the curb.
"The superintendent relieved me of my position, told me I was on administrative leave," he said.
Wilkerson was told the action resulted from a complaint against him, but the nature of that complaint was never specified.
Former Ringling High School teacher Shilo Thompson said the same thing happened to her.
"They just told me, 'You're done in May,' and I wasn't expecting it," she said,. "I was really shocked and didn't know what to say. They said, 'You didn't do anything wrong; you just don't fit in with us.'"
Thompson was another school employee who gave a voice to Koons' accusers. She said several of them confided in her about Coach Koons.
"They felt like they were being attacked, bullied, singled out, and verbally abused, which then — in return — led to mental anguish," Thompson said.
Neither of the former Ringling staffers said they are upset with the outcome; they are sticking to their guns that the alleged victims did nothing wrong.
Now a lawsuit is on the verge of being filed.
"Time will tell," Wilkerson said.