Parent concerns have CHS baseball hire on hold
CLOVERDALE -- A rarity at regular meetings, the Cloverdale School Board saw a packed room Monday evening as parents attended to voice concerns regarding the nominee for the next high school baseball coach.
Before they came forward, Board President Vivian Whitaker moved to strike hiring Kurt Kyle as the varsity boys baseball coach at Cloverdale High School from the agenda. Whitaker and the other board members initially seemed aware that Kyle’s employment had garnered discussion in the community.
When the time came for allowing the public to speak, four Cloverdale parents provided input about Kyle’s behavior as a coach, as well as to his commitment to leading the baseball teams.
The first parent up to the podium was Jessi Koosman, who gave a general synopsis as to those two issues. She cited a particular incident during the last season when Kyle was the coach for the seventh and eighth-grade baseball teams. Koosman related how Kyle left the field in anger before a seventh-grade game, only to return to see the eighth-grade team play. She said Kyle had also repeatedly stated that he was not going to continue coaching.
“The reason why we didn’t bring this up last year was because in a small community, no one’s looking for trouble,” she said. “We parents just felt it was finally time to say something.”
“(Parents) fear that their child will be ridiculed or targeted for saying something,” Jessi’s husband Chad Koosman said. “We know that there are disagreements, but there are no reasons, no excuses, for that kind of behavior.”
Chad added that such behavior should be taken into account as Kyle is considered for a higher position.
“As it looks at rehiring him, the board should know that it has a responsibility to our kids,” he said. “Parents should have a voice, and I appreciate you giving the time to listen to us.”
William Roberts, a manager for the baseball team and former athlete, said he wanted to see coaches held to a higher standard.
“Part of coaching on a team is teaching your kids life lessons,” Roberts said. “If you can’t lead and be that figure, they won’t buy in and have confidence.
“Given what happened last season and what he has said about not coaching, if we keep rehiring him, we’re not going to improve,” he concluded. “He has said repeatedly he doesn’t want to do it.”
Last to speak was parent Tony Evans, who added that if someone says he doesn’t want to coach anymore, he shouldn’t.
“A one-term coach is detrimental to our kids,” he said as a final thought. “We have to find somebody who is committed.”
Whitaker expressed her gratitude to those who had brought their concerns about Kyle’s prospect of coaching at the high school. Board member Arvel Hinton further added that it was important for parents to speak up to get a consensus on a potentially divisive issue.
“We don’t know that there is a problem unless you tell us,” Hinton said. “We’re here to work together, so I thank you all for coming and sharing you concerns as we work through this.”
The board scheduled an executive session on Monday to consider the parents’ statements and letters received at the meeting, and to discuss the issue with school administration.
In a statement to the Banner Graphic Tuesday morning, Cloverdale Superintendent Greg Linton said that Kyle had coached the middle school teams the past four years. Linton also confirmed that Athletic Director James Wade had recommended Kyle to coach at the high school based on that previous experience.
Kyle has been coaching at Cloverdale for more than a decade in various sports including baseball, football and wrestling.
The board also recognized four Students of the Month. Coming from Cloverdale Elementary School were third-graders Eva Shannon and Ian Owen (Shannon was honored at the November board meeting, but could not attend). Seventh-grader Savannah Hubble was recognized by staff at Cloverdale Middle School, and senior Elliot Williamson represented Cloverdale High School.
The board went on with its items in new business, in which board members approved a resolution adopting an amended bus replacement plan to reflect new costs after Cloverdale Schools recently acquired two new school buses. The board also approved a new drug testing vendor, as well as a one-on-one instructional assistant at Cloverdale Elementary and the merging of 401(a) plans.
The board also heard a report by Director of Curriculum and Instruction Cathy Ames regarding Cloverdale’s recent school accountability grades released by the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE), as well as steps being taken to improve growth in the classroom. Ames’ overarching point was that students overall were meeting or exceeding expectations on standardized and diagnostic testing.
The board finally approved the following amended personnel report:
• Employment: Julie Hoffa, elementary school one-on-one instructional assistant;
• Resignation: Tom Winders, high school varsity football coach;
• Volunteer: high school volunteer assistant boys’ basketball coaches Chase Haltom, Brantson Scott, Brody Pfaff, Brandon Moon and Corey Vickers; elementary school volunteer assistant boys’ basketball coaches Jay Bruce Sean Brannigan, Matt Nichols and Christian Frye.
The next regular meeting of the Cloverdale School Board is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 14 at 7 p.m. in the Arthur C. Johnson Administration Center in Cloverdale.