The Minnesota State High School League approved one-year suspensions of dance team head coaches from Chaska, Eastview, Lakeville South and Wayzata, discipline stemming from a protest at the state tournament in February.
The league’s action goes significantly beyond disciplinary actions approved earlier by school districts governing four of those schools. Monday’s vote also included Eden Prairie, whose coaches were part of the protest but have since left the program and were not disciplined by their district.
More than two dozen people interested in the outcome attended Monday’s board meeting at league headquarters in Brooklyn Center. The board heard from 17 speakers, including administrators and coaches from Chaska, Eastview, Lakeville South and Wayzata. All of them doubted the league granted them due process and requested more time for additional investigating.
Coaches and dancers were upset by Faribault’s Class 3A title-winning routine, which had drawn complaints for plagiarism before the tournament. League officials had determined that the routine did not violate its rules. Girls from the five other teams stood off to the side of the Target Center floor holding hands in protest during the award ceremony.
Faribault activities director Ken Hubert spoke last at Monday’s meeting, telling the board “process is not the problem here. You have to address the actions that took place. I believe these coaches are good people but good people make mistakes and that’s what happened here.”
The league’s executive/eligibility committee voted 9-1 for the one-year suspension in an earlier meeting Monday and presented the proposal to the board. The proposal also stipulated a letter of censure to each program’s activities director and participation by coaches in an in-service initiative called Why We Play, sponsored by the league.
After discussion, the board approved the proposal by majority voice vote. Three board members were opposed.
Previously, Eastview coach Jenny Raiche and Chaska coach Kris Rydland received letters of reprimand and had been suspended for the first two meets next season, according to spokesmen in their district.
Written reprimands previously had been given to Lakeville South activities director Neal Strader,dance team coach Genevieve Adler and five assistant coaches. Wayzata’s dance coach, Leslie Swiggum, also had received a letter of reprimand and had been suspended from coaching the first two dance competitions of the next school year, district spokeswoman Amy Parnell said.
Five coaches from the Eden Prairie team, also involved in the protest, “made the decision not to continue on in their coaching roles,” school district spokeswoman Jaclyn Swords said in April. Their departures were not the result of disciplinary action, she said.
Also on Monday, the board approved medals for the student-athletes from Eastview and Wayzata. Medals were not handed out at the state competition.
“They did nothing wrong,” said an emotional Jaime Sherwood, Wayzata activities director.
Hubert concurred but added the schools should not receive team trophies.