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Kansas coach caught in sex-sting wants job back

Published on -8/30/2013, 3:17 PM

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- A former south-central Kansas high school football coach who reached an agreement with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to patronizing a prostitute wants to teach again, his lawyer said.

Todd Puetz was given a 30-day suspended sentence in June after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of patronizing a prostitute. He had faced a possible five-year prison sentence for a felony charge of electronic solicitation of a minor, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1a5zQni ).

"He wants his job back, and he wants what he's entitled to under the law," said Lee Kinch, the lawyer who represents Puetz in employment matters. Puetz had been employed by the Renwick School District from 1996 to 2012.

Puetz had been a physical education teacher, coach and athletic director before the district chose not to renew his contract after the October 2011 sting operation that caught him. Authorities say a detective posed as a 15-year-old to catch suspects willing to pay for sex with underage girls. Police arrested Puetz and six other men.

He had been a 2007 All-Metro football coach of the year in Garden Plain, and his team won the Class 3A title in 2007 with a 14-0 record. When he was their coach, Garden Plain made the playoffs every season.

A Sedgwick County jury found him not guilty in April of attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child and attempted criminal sodomy. The jury couldn't reach a verdict on the third charge, electronic solicitation of a child under 16. Kinch said the deadlocked jury voted 11-1 in favor of acquitting Puetz.

"What he pleaded guilty to has nothing to do with his teaching and coaching responsibilities. It did not involve anyone in that district," Kinch told The Eagle on Thursday.

Tracy Bourne, Renwick superintendent, said the district opted last year not to renew his contract.

"We believe that that was the right decision," said Bourne, who declined to elaborate.

Kinch said "if they (the local school board) think that he is not fit to teach," then the burden is on the district to show why his employment contract wasn't renewed.

Puetz has requested a due-process hearing as a tenured teacher in a public school system, and has requested one, Kinch said. A judge would decide if Puetz could be reinstated as a teacher. Kinch said a decision on whether he could coach again would be up to the district administration.

The hearing has been continued until the state determines if it will act on Puetz's teaching license, Kinch said. He has seen no sign that the state intends to suspend or revoke the license.

Denise Kahler, spokeswoman for the Kansas State Department of Education, said no complaint has been filed against Puetz's license, but that the state is investigating Puetz's case and that is all she can say on the matter.

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