To the Editor:
I am a 50-year resident of DeKalb with two daughters who are former DeKalb High School athletes, and a local businessman. Being a retired teacher in DeKalb of 31 years, (29 years coaching football, wrestling, and track) I have taken many bus rides.
I appreciate the administration’s and school board’s recent greatly improved DHS student infraction statistics noted in the Daily Chronicle, and their prompt handling of student discipline after a recent spontaneous, albeit unfortunate and senseless, incident on a bus ride returning from a wrestling meet.
However, a well-liked coach and teacher of 25 years was also disciplined and relieved of all coaching responsibilities in District 428 now and in the future after that incident, and I respectfully disagree with that decision. Many parents and students who attended a recent school board meeting agree with me.
When I asked, I was told to talk to Athletic Director Bryon Houy and Principal Tamra Ropeter. After a congenial meeting with them I was told they could not discuss specific student or staff matters. Respecting their position, I was directed to contact Superintendent James Briscoe or the school board if I had further concerns.
Feeling the answer to responsibilities and expected outcomes would rest in a coach’s manual, I was told by Briscoe to get back to Houy. That meeting has not taken place yet, nor have I seen any district guidelines outlining bus supervision.
During my 29 years of coaching and field trips I was never told where to sit, or how many coaches/chaperones were required per student. Seemingly there is only one bus driver on most buses every day in every district in Illinois, morning and afternoon. If there is an aide, teacher or coach present on any bus, they generally sit near the bus driver to communicate if an emergency or other need arises.
I hope that such guidelines are written down and reviewed to aid in preventing such outcomes in the future. I would ask the school board and the administration to consider revising their recent staff discipline decision of a freshman coach who again coached his team to a conference wrestling title by 100 points, and except for a few injuries, kept all of his student-athletes participating for the entire season.
You are letting go from coaching a good person, coach, and role model who is all about students.