Before an overflow crowd of parents and students Wednesday night, the Manhattan Beach Unified School District and administration listened to parents and coaches put forth their opinions on two recent coaching personnel issues.
In both cases, the majority of people present seemed to support former Mira Costa High School boys varsity lacrosse coach Chris Jewett and MCHS varsity baseball coach Cassidy Olson, applauding loudly and fervently after Jewett and others spoke in support of each coach.
Jewett and Olson have experienced a public outpouring of support after each coach was investigated amid allegations of inappropriate behavior.
Both were given their individual coaching status on Dec. 18, 2012, with Jewett being told he would not be re-hired as the boys varsity lacrosse coach and Olson placed on restrictive duty that essentially kept him from coaching after school until March 25.
Wednesday night, Jewett, who addressed the board during the public comment portion of the meeting, asked school district officials "to correct a wrong and do the right thing" by reinstating him.
He told the board and audience about the impact losing a job he loved amid what reportedly amounted to allegations from a small group of parents has had on him and his family. He has previously told the Beach Reporter that his dismissal was based on faulty allegations and that he feels vindicated by the district's investigative report that was finalized Jan. 22.
Michelle Kissman, whose son has played on the high school team for Jewett, told the board she was there representing 47 families.
"I am here to tell you you have a problem," she said, adding that the district does not have a procedure to deal with a situation such as Jewett's. "This man got no due process," she said.
"You are at fault in the fact that your own lack of procedure has removed a man from his role unjustly," she told the board and district personnel.
Another member of the public spoke, saying "Chris shouldn't have to suffer for the allegations made by a few and not the many." He asked the district to do the "right thing" by reinstating Jewett.
The board could not respond to the comments due to the Brown Act, which requires that a matter be agendized before it can be discussed.
It was clear, however, that the majority of the crowd agreed with the sentiment of Jewett and others based on the huge amount of applause they received.
In Olson's case, since Brian Clebowicz, one of the parents who wants Olson removed as coach, placed the "baseball issue" on the agenda by following the outlined actions for doing so, the board could have opted to respond after hearing from Clebowicz and Olson supporters.
The board, however, opted to not make any public comment at the meeting.
Clebowicz told them the district had been given "the concerns of 37 parents" with "more than 40 specific allegations" against Olson in December. He also said that Olson had given an "ill-advised speech" when he met on Jan. 10 in Hermosa Beach with parents and players at what was termed an "emergency meeting" to inform them of what was going on with the baseball program, describing Olson's behavior by holding the meeting as "insubordinate."
After Clebowicz addressed the board, MCHS teacher and coach Andrew Caine told the board that only one parent has publicly come forth to articulate the allegations while the rest remain anonymous.
"The allegations have been proven to be false by complete investigations leading to complete reinstatement" of Olson, he noted, saying that the reason being given for Olson's dismissal as coach "changes with the wind."
Caine described the parents' claims as "clearly baseless and a malicious witch hunt for reasons I can't understand." He said their claims are "outrageous defamation" and composed of the "bullying they have complained of."
When Caine's remarks were concluded, the audience gave him rousing applause. When the board declined to discuss the situation, the majority of what had been an overflowing crowd left the meeting room.
- Previously: Mira Costa Varsity Baseball Coach's Duties Restricted
- Previously: Mira Costa Coach Makes Statement on TV News
- Previously: It's 'Play Ball' at School Board Meeting