Boyle schools chairman broke state rules in football coach’s hiring

Boyle County school board chairman Steve Tamme
Boyle County school board chairman Steve Tamme

Less than three weeks after he was hired as Madison Central’s football coach in 2014, Chuck Smith left that program to become coach for the second time at Boyle County, the team he had built into a powerhouse a decade before.

In an Aug. 29 investigative report, the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability found that Boyle County school board chairman Steve Tamme violated state law by participating in Smith’s 2014 hiring. The state office ruled that Tamme must have training on the role of school board members, who are not supposed to be involved in most school district hiring. The office did not find that Smith violated any rules.

Smith had led Boyle County to five consecutive state titles from 1999 to 2003, and a runner-up finish in 2004 before joining the University of Kentucky’s football staff for seven years.

When the head football coach position came open at Boyle County in 2014, Tamme wanted Smith back, the report said.

When school board members in Kentucky take the oath of office, they swear that they won’t be involved in the hiring of school personnel, except for the superintendent and board attorney, the report said. Hiring is the job of the principal.

“Chair Tamme participated in a meeting with a potential candidate for the Boyle County High School head football coaching position,” the report said. “Chair Tamme actively participated in the hiring process by attending this meeting and speaking with Mr. Smith.”

Tamme had been friends with Smith since Smith was the head football coach the first time and Tamme was an active member of the football booster club and an advocate for Smith during Smith’s first stint, the report said. Tamme told Office of Education Accountability officials that he was a strong advocate for the football program because he believed the football program helped with community development and provided college scholarships.

Superintendent Mike LaFavers, Boyle County Principal Will Begley, the high school athletic director and Tamme all met with Smith at a McDonald’s in Bardstown. No one could remember the date, but all told the investigators that the meeting occurred.

“After this meeting, Mr. Smith rescinded his acceptance of the Madison Central High School position and accepted the head football position at Boyle County High School,” the report said.

Tamme, who has been on the school board for 12 years and is currently serving his third term, must “cease participation in any part of the hiring process for Boyle County Schools,” the ruling said. He also has to provide proof to the Office of Accountability by Sept. 30 that he has had training on the subject of “The Do’s and Don’ts of being a school board member.”

Boyle County district officials issued a statement Wednesday that said Tamme “had served commendably” for 12 years on the school board, 11 of them as chairman.

“With regard to the Office of Education Accountability, OEA, issue, Mr. Tamme and the Boyle County School District have fully complied with OEA and fulfilled all of the OEA’s requirements to address the situation. We are confident the issue has been fully resolved.”

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears