To the Editor:
Lance Gackowski is an outstanding teacher, coach, parent, and friend. I had “Mr. Gack” as a teacher when I was a student at DeKalb High School, and have also known him outside of school having been friends with his son for over 13 years. The incomplete reporting in your recent article does both him and the situation a disservice.
Being the only adult on a bus full of high school boys, in the dark, does not lend itself to having a good awareness of all the behavior occurring.
As an educator, I can say that it is often hard to catch everything that happens in a brightly lit classroom with 25 students.
As a former DeKalb athlete, I can also say that coaches are not usually permitted to get up and move through the bus to check on students without first having the bus driver pull over and come to a stop.
It is my understanding that Mr. Gack had no knowledge of the incident until many days later. Racist actions or words by students are reprehensible and should indeed be punished, but to say that Mr. Gack was negligent is wrong.
The negligence lies with Athletic Director Bryon Houy for not ensuring the safety of all students on board by having more than one adult to supervise them. Instead of using this unfortunate situation as a prompt to review athletic department policies, the new athletic director has chosen to use Mr. Gack as a scapegoat and dismiss him.
Mr. Gack is a man of such high moral character and exudes such kindness, warmth, and love for all of his students and athletes that he would surely have stopped this incident had he had knowledge of it.
I would urge the athletic director to revise his decision of Mr. Gack’s dismissal or risk losing a truly great coach and role model for many.