(Editor’s note: The following story concerning allegations against Peckham Public School Superintendent Gary Young contains detailed language that may be upsetting to some readers.)
The Oklahoma State Board of Education has suspended the certificates of longtime Peckham Public School Superintendent Gary Young after receiving multiple allegations of sexual assault, sexual battery and sexual harassment from former students and coworkers.
Oklahoma State Department of Education general counsel Brad Clark told reporters after Thursday’s board meeting that the agency communicated the sexual misconduct allegations to the Department of Human Services and the Kay County Sheriff’s Department.
“We’ve been in regular communication with those offices for the last month,” Clark said. “Yesterday, we had additional conversations with the sheriff in Kay County.”
Thursday, the state board voted unanimously to suspend both Young’s teaching and superintendent certificates.
“That will not permit him to be around school children or children on school property from that point forward,” Clark said.
Located along the Kansas border and sandwiched between portions of Newkirk Public Schools, Peckham Public School has about 100 students and has historically featured a larger than average special education program.
A receptionist with the Kay County Sheriff’s Department referred comment to Kay County District Attorney Brian Hermanson. A call to Hermanson’s office was not returned by publication of this story.
After receiving approval from an individual who made allegations against Young, Clark provided NonDoc with a slightly redacted copy of OSDE’s application for emergency order to suspend Young’s certificates. Young also serves as the school’s principal.
The document (embedded below) contains graphic claims, including allegations of forcible kissing, lewd comments, purchasing alcohol for a minor, propositioning sexual favors and “grinding his crotch” on a former staff member after she had been upset about missing her father.
“The department has received multiple sexual misconduct complaints against Young,” Clark wrote in the application. “These complaints include allegations that Young has sexually assaulted adults and minors, groomed minors for sexual abuse and unfairly compensated teachers in exchange for sexual relationships.”
From the OSDE document:
In 2015, a minor accused Young of sexual assault. The minor claimed that a heavily intoxicated Young approached her, started rubbing her shoulders and she became very uncomfortable. (…)
Information recently provided to the OSDE evidences multiple former Peckham students recounting situations where Young made them feel uncomfortable at his home. One former student claims that Young called her (…) into his bedroom where “he was laying there butt ass naked” and that “weirded us out because he deliberately called us in there.” Additionally, two former students claim that Young made inappropriate comments to them while they were present with his [redacted], stating, “You girls look hot. You should just get naked and go swimming.” While on an out-of-state trip with one of [redacted], Young allegedly purchased alcohol for the underage female, then while driving with her put his hand between her legs, propositioned her for sexual favors and asked if she wanted to go back to the hotel with him. When returning to the home, the female locked herself in a bathroom and contacted her friends for assistance and removal from the presence of Young.
Former Peckham staff members have recounted incidents of sexual misconduct by Gary Young. One former staff member claims that Young “started grinding his crotch on me and started moaning after she described to him that she was upset about missing her father.” Another former staff member writes, “Yes… he made a lot of sexual advances toward me… when I said no, he gave me poor evaluations.”
The document also contains graphic allegations of sexual abuse against juveniles.
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‘Those kids can’t defend themselves’
A Facebook message sent to Gary Young, 65, went unreturned by the publication of this story, as did a phone call and text message to a number found online. That number’s voicemail box was full, and the phone line at Peckham Public School also was not accepting voicemails Thursday afternoon. An email to Peckham Public School Board Chairwoman Kim Case also went unreturned.
Lynn Courtney, on the other hand, answered her phone. A longtime critic of Young in Kay County, Courtney said “hallelujah” when told OSDE had sent sexual misconduct allegations to law enforcement.
“He banned me from the school and everything,” Courtney said. “I got the (2015) police report, and I’ve known what’s gone on for years. My oldest is soon to be 50, and she had to go there through the eighth grade.”
Owing to the close-knit nature of smaller communities, Courtney said she hopes statewide law enforcement — such as the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation — look into the allegations against Young.
“He said I was slanderous, but I have witnesses,” said Courtney, 68. “That’s all I can say unless this is going to go through. I’ve waited a long time.”
Courtney said Young has been at Peckham Public School “a good 40 years, if not more.”
“All I know is I sent five kids through there because I didn’t have a choice,” she said. “I’d have had to pay to send them somewhere else, and I couldn’t afford it.”
Courtney said her children “knew to avoid him,” but she began distributing the 2015 Blackwell Police Department report because Peckham Public School served a higher proportion of special education students.
“Those kind of kids can’t defend themselves,” she said. “That’s what hurts me the most. People won’t believe them.”
Asked to describe Young, Courtney paused.
“I couldn’t put it into words that could be printed,” she said.