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Kingfisher residents may see 12% tax hike to settle hazing lawsuit

Alexander Schimmeck

Kingfisher Public Schools’ board of education voted Monday to accept a settlement in a lawsuit over student hazing allegations, leaving residents facing up to 12% more in property taxes to foot the bill.

The board voted 4-1 to make its residents responsible for the remainder of the settlement over the next three years. That means around 5,000 property owners are looking at a $3.75 million bill, plus interest. Estimates say that would mean up to a 12% property tax hike. The district is already paying $1.25 million of the settlement and $1.4 million in legal fees.

Last spring, the board rejected a much smaller settlement proposal of $1.5 million. It made the recent call to settle, fearing the district would lose its case at trial and have to pay even more.

At this week’s meeting, board member Brad Wittrock told residents the district will try to pay off the whole settlement itself, but couldn’t guarantee that.

The lawsuit stems from allegations head football coach Jeff Myers and other coaches encouraged a fight club-like culture of bullying, hazing and abuse — including sexual abuse. Under the settlement, Myers will never coach again at the district. He’s also being charged with criminal child neglect.

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Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter.
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