Former Lake Wales coach facing multiple investigations
(WFTS.COM) LAKE WALES, Fla. – Five agencies are investigating a former Polk County basketball coach who was forced to resign following allegations that he recruited students from foreign countries without the district’s approval.
Randy Lee left his job at Lake Wales High School last week.
Lee is accused of bringing five foreign students to Polk County to play basketball despite school leaders repeatedly warning him not to do so over the course of two years.
According to a 10-page letter sent by Principal Donna Dunson to the Florida High School Athletic Association, Lee began presenting the idea of bringing foreign students to the area when he was hired in 2012 and felt it would complement the school’s International Baccalaureate program.
School Superintendent Jesse Jackson told Lee not to pursue it.
Last year, a Serbian student enrolled and began playing basketball.
Dunson said when she approached Lee and asked if he had anything to do with the student’s arrival, he denied involvement.
Lee told Dunson the boy was staying with a host family in Lakeland who wanted him to attend the school, according to Dunson’s letter.
School records show the student’s paperwork was in order and he was making good grades.
Administrator suspicions were aroused again three weeks ago when four foreign students, each about 6 feet, 7 inches tall, enrolled at the school.
Three of the students are from Cameroon. The other is from Serbia.
Dunson claims she once again approached Lee.
Lee told Dunson the boys had been enrolled at Faith Baptist Christian Academy North in Ludowici, Ga., but the school had closed, according to Dunson’s letter.
Lee added he was helping out Gordon Gibbons, a former coach from Lakeland, who had one of the best winning records in NCAA Division II history, according to the letter.
ABC Action News spoke to Gibbons over the phone Tuesday.
He denied knowledge of the ordeal and said he would look into it and call us back.
Concerned over the welfare of these students, a dean conducted a welfare check on them.
The dean described their living conditions as “deplorable,” noting the boys had no beds and little food.
According to Dunson, the boys were living at the house owned by the girlfriend of assistant basketball coach Arthur “Stanley” Barnes.
Barnes however was not an employee of the school, but according to Dunson, a citizen assistant receiving a small stipend.
Barnes and his girlfriend were allegedly given $100 to care for the boys and were promised $350.
ABC Action News tried tracking Barnes down. We found his father, who denied his son’s involvement or knowledge of what was occurring.
Dunson claims the remaining money was never paid, resulting in the girlfriend calling school officials asking for money after Lee stopped taking her calls.
Dunson alleges the boys ate breakfast and lunch at school but often went without dinner because Lee left them with no money.
ABC Action News knocked on Lee’s door for comment but he did not come to the door.
The boys first stayed at the dean’s home along with a social worker but have since been placed in a foster home.
On March 4, Dunson said she was alerted by staff there was a man on campus asking to see the boys, but the man had not signed in.
The man, Johnathan Morgans, was from the Georgia school.
According to Dunson, Morgans admitted the school in Georgia did not exist.
Dunson said Lee denied knowing Morgans.
On March 5, school administrators say they gained access to Lee’s emails and determined he had corresponded with Morgans multiple times in the past.
Administrators said they confronted Lee on a conference call March 9.
During the call, administrators claim Lew admitted the first Serbian student who showed up in 2014 lived with him.
Currently, the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, Florida Department of Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services for the welfare of unaccompanied youth, United States Immigration & Naturalization Services and Florida High School Athletic Association are investigating.