PLEASANT VIEW, Utah, Sept. 28, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — Weber High School Principal Chris Earnest has retired amid an investigation into her handling of allegations of inappropriate recruiting by the football team.
Earnest was placed on administrative leave Aug. 16 following a Weber School District investigation stemming from allegations that Weber High assistant coaches had recruited one or more players from Davis School District, district officials said.
Complaints then arose about Earnest’s handling of the allegations, which district officials say were proven to have merit.
Earnest decided to retire before the Weber School District completed its investigation into her handling of the allegations, district officials said Thursday.
“Ms. Earnest has been working for Weber School District for over 30 years, and has earned her retirement benefits. As the investigation drew to a close, Ms. Earnest let the district know, through her attorney, that she will be retiring effective immediately,” according to a statement from the Weber School District.
District officials previously said an investigation determined “a WHS coach exercised undue influence in the recruitment of the players.” The school district learned of the complaint prior to the start of the 2023-24 school year, and the Utah High School Activities Association was contacted regarding eligibility of players involved.
Earnest was tasked with investigating the allegations against her coaches and taking appropriate administrative action, if necessary, district officials said.
“At the conclusion of her investigation, Weber School District officials received complaints over how the investigation was handled by Ms. Earnest. To ensure that WSD policies and procedures were properly followed, district officials initiated a follow-up investigation,” the district said in an Aug. 31 statement.
That investigation led to additional allegations of unprofessional conduct and potential violations of district policies, according to the school district.
“Like other human resource investigations, it is not always clear from the beginning what allegations may arise. While this investigation took longer than the district would have liked, it was necessary to follow through with the complaints that the district received,” the Thursday statement continues. “Anything less than following through with reports would have resulted in an incomplete investigation. Consequently, the investigation did take time, and the district recognizes the stress this placed on Ms. Earnest.”
Because Earnest opted to retire, the district concluded its investigation without disclosing the findings.
“The district wishes to thank Ms. Earnest for her 31 years of dedicated service as a teacher and school administrator in Weber School District. The district will now focus on filling the vacancy left by her retirement. Pending administrative changes are expected to take place at the school over the next couple of weeks,” the release says.