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Bixby board votes to accept superintendent's resignation amid sexual assault investigation

The Bixby School Board has voted unanimously to accept Kyle Wood's resignation as superintendent. (KTUL)

BIXBY, Okla. (KTUL) – The Bixby Board of Education has unanimously voted to accept Superintendent Kyle Wood's resignation amid a sexual assault investigation involving the high school football team. Wood and three other school leaders are being investigated for failing to report the assault, which court documents allege occurred at the now-former superintendent’s house. It’s not clear if Wood was home at the time.

Through a public relations firm, Wood released the following statement regarding his departure from the district:

Dr. Robert Kyle Wood announced today his resignation and retirement as Superintendent of the Bixby School District. In light of recent events, Dr. Wood decided it was in the best interests of the Bixby School District, the Bixby community, and his family to step away at this time.
Although this has been a challenging time for Dr. Wood and the Bixby School District, recent events cannot erase Dr. Wood’s many accomplishments as a life-long Oklahoma educator, including his successful 11-year tenure as Bixby’s Superintendent. Under Dr. Wood’s leadership, Bixby has become one of the most academically successful and desirable school districts in the State. As the District has grown, Dr. Wood helped create a culture of professional excellence, managed the on-budget and on-time construction of numerous state-of-the-art facilities, and managed the District’s budget to allow our hard-working teachers and staff to receive annual stipends, an accomplishment that gives Dr. Wood great satisfaction. Dr. Wood left the District in great shape, academically and financially. He is proud to have helped position the District for continued growth and success.
In resigning, Dr. Wood expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to have served the District and the Bixby community as Superintendent, and extended his thanks to his many friends and colleagues in the District for their friendship and service during his tenure. “I am particularly grateful, for the many people who have supported me and my family through these challenging times,” Dr. Wood commented.
The media’s reporting of recent events has, in several important ways, been inaccurate, misleading and incomplete. Dr. Wood did not violate any law regarding reporting of child abuse; nor has he violated any District rule or policy. Because of the pending investigation, Dr. Wood will not litigate this case in the press. Instead, Dr. Wood will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officials, and continue to respect District Attorney Matt Ballard’s investigative process.

RELATED | Bixby School Board: Not enough information to act on sexual assault investigation

At a special board meeting Tuesday, the Bixby school board voted to approve a resignation agreement with Wood, releasing a copy of the agreement to the media. The board also appointed Lydia Wilson, the principal of Bixby Central Elementary School, as interim superintendent.

Last month, news broke of a criminal investigation involving the high school football team. According to an affidavit, a 16-year-old player told investigators multiple teammates held him down and assaulted him with a pool stick at a team gathering at Wood’s house. The victim said the assault was recorded on one of his teammate’s cellphones. He also claimed it wasn’t the first such incident at the house.

According to the affidavit, an investigator for the District 12 District Attorney’s Office believes school officials delayed reporting the crime for several days, hindering the investigation. Bixby police, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the District 12 DA’s Office have all been involved in the case.

RELATED | Parents calling for suspension of Bixby school officials amid sexual assault investigation

Cellphones and electronic communications between Wood, Athletic Director Jay Bittle, High School Principal Terry Adams and Head Football Coach Loren Montgomery and four juveniles were seized last month as part of the ongoing investigation. No charges have been filed.

School board members met several times to discuss the investigation behind closed doors before taking action Tuesday. Reading from a prepared statement, Board President Ron Schnare said the disciplinary process is ongoing as the district continues its internal investigation.

Schnare also expressed disappointment in the DA's office and its investigator, saying the initial search warrant affidavit "contains multiple false and untrue assertions," resulting in "numerous disparaging media stories."

"We are now calling on the Office of the 12th District Attorney to correct the false and incorrect information that was reported in the initial search warrant affidavit, including, but not limited to, the timing of when school personnel reported the alleged incident to the proper authorities as well as when the parents of the alleged victim were notified of the details of the alleged assault," said Schnare. "We invite the district attorney to contact the district's lawyer who can provide all of the needed corrections."

Schnare also said criticism of the board's inaction is misplaced because their investigation would be extensive and board members wanted to avoid any rush to judgment.

As outlined in Wood's resignation agreement, he will continue to receive his regular salary and benefits through the end of his contract -- Oct. 31, 2018. He will also be paid for his unused vacation and sick time, totalling $12,615.15.

Wood will serve the rest of his contract on administrative leave. According to the agreement, if he is unable to find new employment by July 1, 2018 and files for unemployment compensation, the district will not contest his claim.

The agreement also states that the resignation is not an admission of fault or liability.

"Employee is not admitting, and expressly denies, that he has breached any provision of the Contract, any policy, rule or regulation promulgated by the District or any law or other regulation," reads the agreement.

The criminal investigation is ongoing. No charges have been filed.

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