The room was packed with passionate supporters, but it did not change the fact that rules were broken, procedures were not followed, and direct orders were ignored.
As a result, six players are ineligible to play football. Scholarships are on the line, and three seniors will more than likely not play ball in their senior year.
The situation with EHS and Coach Spears was tragic; but more importantly it was unnecessary-didn’t have to go down this way at all.
Spears was given direction to correct his behavior on multiple occasions, beginning in May, and continuing through August 30th. Coach chose to not correct the behavior, and as a result he left us no room to maneuver, he painted us into a corner.
This was a tough vote, there were/are no winners, and the only thing that may come from this is that all coaches and programs will now be on notice and transfers will be scrutinized. As they should be.
And I certainly hope we are able to get these 6 players back on the field ASAP. They are the victims here-not Willie Spears!
Had I the latitude, I would have fired Spears as the coach, made him take an ethics/recruiting course, I’d have suspended him from coaching for 24 months, and I would have transferred him to Warrington, Bellview, Ferry Pass, or Workman Middle school to work the rest of his one year contract. I would have put him on probation with a very short leash, but I would have let him teach as I believe he has the capacity to reach young people and be a
positive role model for them. No doubt about that.
But that’s my opinion, one man’s opinion and I do not have the legal right to force such a recommendation, and the board as a whole does not have that power. This is but one of the dysfunctional elements of having an elected board and an elected superintendent. It’s why out of 15,000 school boards nationwide, there are less than 200 with this arrangement (99.7% have elected boards and hired “appointed” superintendents). Ours is a throwback model that concentrates too much power in one individual. This is my opinion, and in no way a condemnation or even a shot to our current superintendent, Malcolm Thomas. It's not the man, it is the position.
So I mentioned an alternative punishment for Spears like what I’ve just described above, but The Superintendent would not entertain this notion.
It was an up or down proposition; Termination or No Punishment. That was my choice to make.
Given this absence of discretion, of course I voted for termination. Actions have consequences.
Insubordination destroys organizations if not dealt with swiftly and appropriately. If we allow something, we not only condone it but we endorse it. And lots of the district’s 8,500 full and part-time employees were watching what we’d do. We had to get it right.
Did we get it exactly right? No. Do I think there will be a lawsuit? Yes. Can we sustain our action? Maybe. Could we have done this differently and still achieved the same result---correcting the behavior and punishing the infractions in a progressive manner without firing Coach from his teaching job----? Absolutely.
But we did what we did and we move forward. We are where we are now.