How should schools within approach the hiring and firing of temporary coaches?
While there is nothing in either the school board’s policy or administrators’ regulations to offer guidance, the DUSD Board of Education made a small, but important step in establishing guidelines.
During last night’s school board meeting, the board directed its staff to begin the solicitation process for a committee that will advise the school board on a variety of policies and regulations concerning temporary coaches within the school district – among them the hiring and firing of temp coaches.
The committee will consists of parents, teachers, students, coaches and members of the community, according to the board.
The decision to revise the guidelines for temporary coaches comes at the heels of a massive wave of spurred by the decision to dismiss Troy Hensley as the JV Coach of the Dixon High School Rams.
The decision, made by DHS Varsity Coach Wes Besseghini and ratified by Principal John Barsotti, caused a division within the school made up of supporters of Hensley and Besseghini.
During the previous meeting, the school board vowed to revisit the policy after a crowd of supporters of Hensley and Besseghini crammed into the Dixon City Council chambers during the meeting to talk about the issue.
“We had a couple of evenings with significant, unscheduled presentations related to coaching positions,” Interim DUSD Superintendent Brian Dolan told the board. “It’s an old policy, 1999 is both when the board policy and administration regulation have been dealt with.”
Dolan explained that board policies are typically broad statements that seek to enact certain policies and procedures, while administration policy governs how the board policy is enacted.
The administration regulation talks about the temporary coaches’ competency levels, Dolan said, including their knowledge of skill-building, strategy, first aid, techniques, child psychology, being free of tuberculosis and other items that adhere to the school’s code of conduct.
But there is nothing about the procedure of hiring and firing temporary coaches. Dolan told the board that the policy should incorporate the recruiting guidelines for temporary coaches, selection procedures, feedback, and accountability. Dolan told the board that he researched the policies of neighboring school districts to get a hint of what Dixon should do.
Several individuals spoke both in favor of the committee and against it.
Dixon City Councilman Michael Ceremello told the board that the power to hire and fire temporary coaches should be in the hands of the school’s athletic director.
“I really don’t have a problem with the head coach having this kind of power or the athletic director,” he said. “I don’t want to see your high school athletic program run by a committee of parents ... that’s not what you hire a head coach to do. I realize that Mr. Hensley had a great season as a JV Coach. If Mr. Hensley is this good he can apply as a head coach (elsewhere). If this head coach (Besseghini) doesn’t succeed he (Hensley) can come back here and apply for a head coach (job). I think to tell a head coach that he can’t hire and fire a person for whatever reason ... I think is wrong.”
But Trustee Guy Garcia, himself a coach, specified that the proposed committee would not be telling the coaches whom to hire and fire. He said that the committee’s task will be to make recommendations, that the board will ultimately have the final say over, about the policy pertaining to the temp coaches.
Rugby Coach and Dixon Police Capt. Steve Bird told the board that forming a committee would be a good idea, however, there were bigger issues at play within the athletic sports department at DHS.
“I do think the process is something that needs to be reviewed and changed,” Bird said.
But at the same time Bird, referencing a recent letter sent by Coach Hensley’s wife Brandy to the school board, told the board “I think the bigger issue right now, to me at least, is there seems to be some suspected abuse of power and some inappropriate conduct within the program. There’s a level of dysfunction and a lack of accountability that warrants a serious investigation.”
Bird did not go into detail about the letter.
Brandy Hensley also addressed the board during last night’s meeting. She told the board that while coaches and athletic directors come and go in Dixon, the parents and students are left dealing with the consequences of decisions made.
“We feel that we are ignored,” she said. “I can give you a ton of instances where we have gone through the proper channels ... and we feel by large that we are ignored. But we are the people who live here day in and day out ... my kids are seventh generation here I will die here. I will be buried here.”
The school board agreed with commenters in support of the committee, but before the issue can be resolved, the board will need to form a task force that will advise the board on its
Board president Irina Okremtchouk instructed Dolan to first form the drug testing policy taskforce before forming the other one. The people who form the drug test committee may be some of the same folks who serve on the temp coaches' group. But the board specified that the members of these groups would need to agree to a long-term commitment.
She also said that any recommendation made by these two advisory boards would need to be vetted and reviewed by a counselor/lawyer who will assist the board in making the final decisions.