Credit: Facebook / San José State University
Jason Hawkins

The Plumas Unified School District has suspended Quincy Junior-Senior High School’s assistant principal and athletic director, Jason Hawkins, to investigate “potential misconduct” since he joined the school in 2018.

The suspension follows an EdSource report on Thursday that Hawkins sexually and racially harassed players when he coached San Jose State’s baseball team in 2017.

Plumas Superintendent William Roderick, in a statement, said Hawkins was put on leave while “the District investigates allegations of potential misconduct by Mr. Hawkins during his employment with the Plumas Unified School District. As with all personnel matters, the details are confidential and cannot be shared at this time.”

He did not say when Hawkins was suspended, but he had told EdSource on Tuesday that Hawkins was working that day.

Late Friday, Roderick issued a second statement, in which he said the district “is currently navigating an ongoing personnel investigation. Although we cannot comment on the specifics of this investigation, we want to assure you that we are taking this seriously and will provide updates when we are able.”

He then addressed the district’s hiring practices. EdSource reported Thursday that a San Jose State spokesperson said the university had no record of receiving a reference or work-history request from Plumas Unified about Hawkins.

“We can say that our hiring practices are built to ensure we employ the most qualified staff while also aligning with our ethical and moral values,” Roderick said. “As with every hire, we make job-specific background and reference checks to make sure we are putting the best candidate in a position. This same process was used to hire Jason Hawkins as an English teacher in August 2018.”

Hawkins was later promoted. He is identified on Quincy Junior-Senior High School’s website as it assistant principal and athletic director.

Roderick also said the district plans to review its hiring practices.

“We don’t take for granted the trust you put in us to provide a safe learning environment for your students. Plumas Unified School District is committed to an ongoing review of our hiring practices to maintain the community’s trust as we place employees onto campuses and into programs and departments countywide,” he said. “We acknowledge that this investigation may extend into a broader review of how we make hiring and promotion decisions and our background check process for all personnel matters.”

The rural, 12-school district has 2,187  students, according to its profile on the state Department of Education’s website.

Hawkins did not respond to a phone message and an email Friday morning. His school email account generated an auto reply that he was out of the office.

While at San Jose State in 2017, investigators found that Hawkins sexually and racially harassed players and his coaching staff with raunchy sex jokes told during team “story time,” referred to a Black player with an offensive racial slur, used a slur to refer to Asian players and made derogatory comments about other racial groups and women.

San Jose State placed Hawkins on administrative leave in late 2017 following completion of an investigation that found he had used sexual and racial language to harass his players and staff.  Hawkins resigned in early 2018 before a decision on how to discipline him was reached by university officials. A separate investigation found that the baseball team had violated NCAA rules during Hawkins tenure. The university was fined $5,000 and placed on two years probation.  The press release announcing Hawkins’ resignation did not give a reason for his departure.

Roderick also said in the Friday statement that the district is working to create continuity in Hawkins’ absence.

“We are establishing a system of support for Quincy Junior-Senior High School to maintain continuity and minimal disruption for all student and athletic activities so that they may continue as scheduled.”

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