A bill to protect jobs of high school coaches from parental complaints is a bad idea.
It seems that some coaches claim they are being let go because too many parents complain about their coaching and how they handle their players.
To protect their jobs, a bill in the Legislature would require that the school board could not dismiss a coach on the basis of parental complaints only.
These coaches do not need this protection; rather, frustrated parents need some avenue so that unworthy coaches are taken off the playing field.
Don’t get this wrong. Almost all coaches are qualified, do a good job and should never lose their jobs. These are the coaches who put the welfare and development of the character of their players above winning. These are the coaches who know the techniques of coaching the sport, who know how to assemble a team, develop team chemistry and bring out the best in their players, win or lose.
These are the coaches who strictly follow the rules, know how to teach, how to develop a player, bring him and her into the starting lineup, reward the players when they do well and counsel them when they make mistakes.
These are the coaches who respect the players, their fellow coaches and the parents who put their hearts and souls into developing their children, believing that sports develop teamwork, character and relationship-building.
Parents who try to get these coaches removed should be ashamed of themselves, and school boards should have the spine to ignore unworthy parental complaints and keep these coaches.
But, let’s face it. There are a few coaches who don’t deserve to be on the field, the ice and the courts. Getting rid of them is not easy for parents when they have a legitimate complaint.
These are the coaches who put winning above the athlete’s welfare, who berate the players in front of the public, who play favorites, sometimes with their own sons and daughters, who bend the rules of the game, who recruit players outside the district, displacing those who gave their all for starting positions.
Yes, these are the coaches who have no time for the parents who have honest questions and don’t get answers. Parents don’t know where to turn for fear that objecting would only make matters worse for their youngsters.
Athletic directors tend to over protect even the bad coaches, for, after all, they appointed them. High school principals want to back their athletic directors, because that’s the way the system works.
School boards are the last resort for parents, because they, after all, are the elected representatives of the public. Alas, school boards too often take the easy way out and follow the administration’s recommendations and hide behind privacy rules for their actions.
School boards do not need a law that would essentially make it harder for parents to be heard and to remove coaches who have no business teaching and coaching students. Already, coaches are notified they will not be rehired for the next year and have a chance to appeal.
There’s a reason no state has a law like this. It’s unnecessary.
Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers and a member of the ECM Editorial Board.