FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — Jerome Collins was a basketball coach at Federal Way High School for more than 30 years, winning three state championships during his tenure. He’s also an inductee in the Federal Way Schools 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame.
However, multiple parents told KIRO 7 it’s Collins’ newest role as Lakota Middle School’s PE teacher that has them worried.
“When we walked into the gym and saw him, my stomach just dropped. I’ve been sick ever since. I haven’t slept for two days because I’m worried about my kids going to school,” an anonymous parent at Lakota Middle School said.
The anonymous parent said she is also a former student of Collins and attended Federal Way High School in the 90s. She said she saw Collins act inappropriately toward her fellow female students.
The controversy surrounding Collins from the 90s was detailed by The Seattle Times in 2003.
“Despite repeated complaints that boys basketball coach Collins was touching and sexually harassing girls, he continues to coach and teach,” according to the article titled “Coaches who prey: Other cases of Washington coaches and sexual misconduct.” “Collins was reprimanded in 1994 for ‘slapping female students on the buttocks and inappropriately joking with female students’ and had to undergo training on how to interact appropriately with girls,” it continued.
Five years after the reported training on proper behavior, another student accused Collins of inappropriate misconduct, according to the article.
“Collins constantly asked her to kiss him, said he wanted to see her naked, rubbed her stomach and kissed her,” the article read. “A lawyer for the district’s human-resources office determined that the student was credible and that Collins should be fired. Further warnings or a suspension would be ‘inadequate corrective response in light of the prior warning.’”
“But district officials chose not to fire him and considered lesser discipline,” the article continued. “Collins fought that effort. His union lawyer subpoenaed the girls’ mental health records, grades and attendance records. The school did not punish Collins, citing difficulty in ‘sustaining termination or other disciplinary action.’”
“It’s not just rumors. I’ve witnessed it,” the anonymous parent said. “I’ve watched him smack girls’ butts when I was in high school as they’d walk by.”
Collins continued coaching with Federal Way High School and worked with Federal Way Schools until he was placed on administrative leave in 2018.
In 2018, Collins, Federal Way Public Schools, and former player Jalen McDaniels were sued by a former student, Tally Thomas.
Thomas accused McDaniels of secretly filming and sharing sex videos of her to other students without her knowledge. Thomas also argued Collins and the district “swept the matter under the carpet and protected his top players to ensure success at the state basketball tournament and beyond,” according to the lawsuit obtained by the Tacoma News Tribune.
“Federal Way High School won its second state basketball title… within weeks of the exploitation and harassment coming to light,” the lawsuit indicated.
Thomas sued Collins and the district for $3.5 million. Both sides agreed to a $425,000 settlement, according to the Federal Way Mirror.
Brian Smith, another parent with a daughter attending Lakota Middle School, said he was stunned to find out about Collins’ employment history.
“I found out today. It’s the first day of school, so I was little shocked that a person with his history was moved to this school instead of being fired or let go,” Smith said.
KIRO 7 brought the concerns from parents to Federal Way Public Schools. The district’s chief of communications and strategy, Whitney Chiang, sent the following statement:
“We are aware of past allegations from years ago against this staff member, and due process has taken place in regard to these allegations. There is no evidence that Mr. Collins is a danger to scholars. We would never knowingly place someone on campus who we thought or had evidence would present a danger to scholars, as we hold the safety of our students paramount.
“All employees have trained annually on professional conduct and student safety. In Federal Way Public Schools, we pride ourselves in providing a safe and welcoming environment for all scholars.”
©2021 Cox Media Group