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Continued: Minnesota House bill has shield for high school coaches under fire

  • Article by: MEGAN RYAN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 28, 2013 - 11:34 PM

Rep. Kathy Brynaert, a Democrat from Mankato and former school board member, tried to amend the sentence out of the omnibus bill in the Education Finance committee. She said the bill “unnecessarily narrows and undermines board authority,” adding that board members are publicly elected officials responsible to their constituents.

She said coaches have recourse in the existing statute. Boards must notify coaches of nonrenewal within 14 days, provide reasons for the nonrenewal when requested and allow coaches a reasonable opportunity to respond at a board meeting.

Brynaert also expressed concern that the term “sole reason” in the bill was too vague and left school boards open to litigation.

The Minnesota School Boards Association also opposes the bill as unnecessary and believes it closes off board members from constituents, said Kirk Schneidawaind, deputy executive director.

Erickson said the bill would not ignore concerns about coaches committing immoral, unethical or unlawful actions.

The House bill passed Tuesday. The Senate’s omnibus bill, which does not have the same language on coaching, passed on Thursday. A conference committee will most likely meet next week to take up the two big bills and decide the fate of the coaching provision.

Rep. Paul Marquart, a Democrat from Dilworth and former wrestling coach who authored the coaching bill and the House omnibus bill, said he will fight for the provision but acknowledged that it’s not a top priority.

Marquart said he did not have any model legislation for crafting the sentence. Bob Gardner, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations, said he keeps track of such legislation and has not heard of any similar state statutes. He said the national association and other state associations will monitor the provision’s effect in Minnesota before deciding to adopt similar language.

To help deal with coaching issues like parent complaints, Erickson’s organization, the Minnesota State High School League and the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association have collaborated on a conference set for August.

“Why I coach, the way I coach, how does it feel to play for me?” Erickson said. “Those kinds of questions that coaches need to do some self-reflection and say, ‘How is it that I can coach in this day and age as opposed to before?’ ”

 

Megan Ryan is a University of Minnesota student reporter on assignment for the Star Tribune.

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