Chad Barrett has resigned from his post as head coach of Bonney Lake Football and school health teacher Wednesday after internal Sumner School District and independent investigations revealed about $17,000 missing from the ASB student account he was in charge of.
“Barrett admitted during the investigation that those funds are missing and unaccounted for, and he acknowledged that he is responsible for those funds,” said district communications spokeswoman Ann Cook. “He acknowledged his actions had no legitimate, professional purpose.”
After the fall football season, BLHS discovered irregularities in fundraising activities led by Barrett. An internal audit by the district determined insufficient monies for two fundraising activities were collected. An independent investigation followed that determined the money was indeed missing. The case has since been forwarded to the State Auditor’s Office.
The money was raised by the Panther football team during this year’s fundraising events for the team.
“Toward the end of football season, our bookkeeper noticed irregularities with the ASB account… it was determined that there wasn’t enough money deposited into the account,” said Cook.
Barrett has been head coach of Bonney Lake football for three years and led the student fundraising efforts for the team. In the first two years, Cook said the annual Panther Football fundraisers netted about $17,000 annually for the program. This year, only $320 was deposited into the ASB account. The full fundraising potential was $20,000, so it's hard to tell how much was actually raised.
Barrett will be responsible for restitution to the district for what was lost, said Cook. The details of that have not been finalized.
While booster funds are managed by team parents, student-led fundraisers are put in the ASB account, which comes under district purview.
Cook said that the missing money was associated with the Elite Fundraiser Gold Card fundraiser, a coupon book students sold for $20 each.
Cook said the district doesn’t know how many personal checks were written and cards were sold because those are missing, too.
“Based on the last two years of the fundraiser, we know the potential income from the cards. Without the cards and without the checks, there isn’t any way to know how much is missing until people contact us and say they bought them,” said Cook. “If people donated money to the football team, we want them to contact us. We need to start gathering information for canceled checks.”
The April 4 Sumner School Board meeting was full of Bonney Lake High School students who supported Barrett and represented the 136 players on the team roster. They donned Team Barrett T-shirts and addressed the board about their faith in the coach. The details of his resignation were unknown to the students and parents at that meeting time.
Parents voiced frustration with BLHS administration on the lack of communication. Players missed football camp opportunities and the students, who got choked up at the podium when talking about their devotion for Barrett, were genuinely worried about his well-being.
The students told the School Board that school administration said Barrett was on sick leave and then were told little else about what had transpired.
“I look over at my brothers, and they are very upset,” said BLHS football player Travis Mayer. “They say the trust has been broken by our coach, but we all love our coach. Our trust has been broken by the administration.”
Frustration led the team to stage a sit-in demonstration in the school commons today and they all came to school and sat on the stage wearing Team Barrett T-shirts. #TeamBarrett is also a trending topic on Twitter.
They painted “Team Barrett” on the BLHS rock, which was removed by school staff. Students who spoke at the school board meeting said that they were threatened with suspension if they continue to protest.
Cook said that the legal situation made it difficult to give the students the full story and that staff worked quickly to accommodate the players and answer their questions as much as they could. The entire process took over a month and Barrett was out sick for personal health reasons during the investigation. Now that Barrett has submitted his resignation, the district can close the human resources case and hand the situation over to the State Auditor’s Office.
“We have not been able to share anything – it’s a highly sensitive personnel issue, so we couldn’t share the status of the coach,” said Cook. “We understand this can be troubling, but we have confidentiality laws that we need to respect. During the investigation, our hope was for another outcome, so we had to be mindful of that.”
Barrett has led Panther Football on a successful run over the last three seasons and the district admits he’ll be hard to replace.
“This is a heartbreaking situation, we all know Barrett is an outstanding coach and has a great impact on Bonney Lake High School,” said School Board member Sherm Voiles to the students in the audience. “We understand your frustration with not being told a lot, and we will do everything we can with the ongoing situations at school.”
Cook said that the posting for a new head football coach should be up on Friday, once Barrett’s resignation becomes official. He was a salaried teacher and earned about $60,000, including base salary and coaching contract.
A hiring committee headed by Athletics Director Tim Thomsen will be responsible for hiring a new head coach, with input from the students. Cook said two football players have already agreed to sit on the board and help with the selection process.
Meanwhile, the district Business Office is reviewing its training, policies and procedures related to fundraising activities, booster clubs and ASB accounts.
“We have every reason to believe this is an isolated incident, and should not be perceived as a reflection of the fundraising efforts by our students and families,” said Debbie Campbell, executive director of Business Services.
If you donated to the BLHS Football Program during this school year, please contact Debbie Campbell at 253-891-6010, so the district can verify the status of your donation.
For more information on the hiring process for a new head football coach, contact Athletic Director Tim Thomsen at 253-891-5555.