New Castle News

Laurel

December 5, 2013

Our Opinion: Laurel must resolve cross-country questions

NEW CASTLE — We readily admit we have no firsthand insight into a dispute involving Laurel High School’s cross-country coach.

But we do know these controversies have consequences, and we think Laurel officials need to take some positive steps in order to minimize them.

At issue is a decision by the Laurel school board to open the position of cross-country coach Greg Schmitt. This comes despite the fact Laurel’s girls cross-country team has captured the last two WPIAL championships.

So one presumes the move to seek applicants for the position has nothing to do with Schmitt’s coaching skills. But Laurel officials aren’t explaining their rationale, understandably citing personnel considerations in the matter.

However, Schmitt has talked to the New Castle News. And he claims the decision stems from comments he had made to this newspaper after a meet that Laurel officials supposedly decried as negative toward the district. He also said a parent had complained that Schmitt had used profanity in front of students during a bus trip following a meet.

From what we see, the comments cited by Schmitt hardly qualify as a reason to get rid of a coach. As for allegations of swearing, cross-country team members who showed up at Tuesday night’s Laurel school board meeting in support of Schmitt denied any such incident took place.

If there were other problems with Schmitt within the district, we don’t know what those are.

So what we have is a school district working to remove a successful coach, who appears to have widespread support from team members and their parents. The justification for Schmitt’s removal effectively stands as a puzzle.

And it’s a puzzle that has the potential to damage morale at Laurel. Student athletes confused by the situation are bound to wonder about the decision-making process within the school system. And other coaches may receive the message that they are walking on eggshells, with support potentially withdrawn from them for flimsy reasons.

None of that is helpful. And we think Laurel officials must take some meaningful steps to resolve it.

First, they need to review the decision-making process to date. If the move to oust Schmitt was based primarily on now-disputed allegations about swearing, that ought to be grounds to revisit the decision.

Plus, it also should serve as a warning about jumping to conclusions. Was the complaint against Schmitt properly investigated? Was the evidence reviewed?

By making his dissatisfaction with Laurel’s decision public, Schmitt has basically waived any privacy rights. This creates the opportunity for Laurel to clear the air.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Laurel
  • Laurel vacancies filled

    Vacancies within the Laurel School District are being filled prior to the start of school next month.

    July 18, 2014

  • Laurel to have multi-class reunion

    A multi-class reunion celebrating the 25-year anniversary for Laurel’s classes of 1987 through 1991 is set for Sept. 13.

    July 14, 2014

  • Laurel board approves budget

    The Laurel School Board has adopted a $17.8 million budget for the 2014-15 school year. The $17,849,586 spending plan requires no tax increase. It represents a $361,496 increase over the current year’s budget.

    June 19, 2014 1 Story

  • Laurel names secondary principal

    The Laurel School Board hired Mark Frengel as secondary principal of student affairs. Frengel will receive a salary of $88,000 for the 2014-15 school year.

    June 19, 2014

  • Laurel class of ’74 planning reunion

    The 40-year anniversary reunion for Laurel’s Class of 1974 has been set for July 19.

    June 18, 2014

  • Laurel budget proposal has no tax increase

    The Laurel School Board has introduced a $17.8 million budget that requires no tax increase. The $17,849,586 spending plan for the 2014-15 school year is $361,496 higher than the current year’s.

    May 15, 2014

  • Laurel Class of ’74 to hold reunion

    Members of Laurel High School’s Class of 1974 will celebrate their 40th anniversary this summer.

    April 11, 2014

  • Laurel OKs positions

    The Laurel School Board approved the employment of three instructors for additional duties this week.

    April 9, 2014

  • Cooper.tiff Laurel hires Cooper as new football coach

    Laurel High has found its man. Brian Cooper replaces Pat Cuba at the helm of the Spartans football program. Cuba resigned last month after leading the Spartans to a 7-3 record and the program’s first playoff appearance since 2009.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • gavel.jpg Forbes appointed to Laurel board

    Blaine Forbes has been appointed to fill a vacancy on the Laurel School Board. Forbes, who previously served on the board, was approved Monday by a unanimous vote of the eight board members.

    March 25, 2014 1 Photo

House Ads
Poll

Where can you get the best ice cream cone this summer?

Forbush
Handel's
Bruster's
Dairy Queen
     View Results