Washington County School Board can now OK emergency athletic coaches

Three members oppose new policy, saying it goes too far

Three members oppose new policy, saying it goes too far


WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The Washington County Board of Education gave itself more authority over some coaches Tuesday.

The board will now have the power to approve emergency coaches.

That decision was made as part of a policy change related to coaches that was approved 4-2 Tuesday.

An emergency coach is one who is hired from outside of the school system. Officials first look to fill a coaching vacancy from within the school and then from within the school system.

Previously, no coaches required school board approval.

Board Members Wayne D. Ridenour and Ruth Anne Callaham voted against the change. Member Paul W. Bailey was absent.

Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan also was against the board's decision to approve emergency coaches.

"I just feel this is going too far, and it will be at the expense of the principal's prerogative to choose his or her staff," Morgan said.


Board Member Bernadette M. Wagner said Tuesday that the board's decision to approve emergency coaches would ensure the safety of student-athletes who spend time off campus with the coaches.

Morgan said that students often spend one-on-one time with other adults who volunteer in classrooms, in cafeterias and on playgrounds.

"Will you appoint the playground aides? Will you appoint the grandmother (who volunteers)? Will you appoint all contracted employees," she asked the board.

Morgan said the school board was treating one group of people - emergency coaches - differently from others who work with students.

Ridenour said he agreed. He asked if the school board would soon be approving chess club supervisors or the National Honor Society adviser.

Ridenour said he has heard from many coaches who see the new policy as cumbersome and unnecessary. The change requires coaches to communicate each day with the school's athletic director.

The newly approved policy also states that coaches will "work under the direction of and in cooperation with the school's athletic director who is to provide input on the evaluation to be completed by the school administrator."

Ridenour said in that case a teacher is involved in the evaluation of a teacher, which is a violation of the teacher's contract.

"That's troubling to me," he said.

Ridenour said the human resources committee, of which he is a member, unanimously opposed the policy.

"As a fan, I would love to have the opportunity to approve and disapprove (of) coaches," he said. "As a Board of Education member, I have a problem with that."

Ridenour - a former basketball coach - said the school board could be flooded with letters from parents complaining about their student's coach. He said that fans are often upset about a losing season and blame the coach.

"But when you have a winning season, you're a genius," he said. "But you're the same person those two years."

How they voted

The Washington County Board of Education voted Wednesday to give itself the power to approve emergency coaches. Here is how board members voted:

Board President Roxanne R. Ober - Yes

Board Vice President Donna Brightman - Yes

Member Paul W. Bailey - Absent

Member Ruth Anne Callaham - No

Member Wayne D. Ridenour - No

Member William H. Staley - Yes

Member Bernadette M. Wagner - Yes

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