New Castle News

Schools

December 3, 2013

Laurel High: Cross country coach says losing his job ‘mind-boggling’

NEW CASTLE — Greg Schmitt probably won’t get a chance at a three-peat.

Schmitt confirmed last night that the Laurel School District has opened his position as the high school cross country coach. The job opening is posted on the district’s website.

“It was a huge surprise,” said the sixth-year coach, who led the girls team to back-to-back WPIAL championships the past two seasons. “It’s a total shocker to me. It just doesn’t make any sense. I just don’t get it. It’s just mind-boggling.”

Both Laurel athletic director Mike Tinstman and coordinator of student affairs Steve Skerbetz declined comment, citing school policies regarding personnel matters.

THE ALLEGATIONS

Schmitt, 32, said he was told he wasn’t loyal enough to the school district and was accused of swearing at his players after an away meet.

“They told me that I don’t bleed green and that I’m anti-Laurel,” he said. “There’s been times that I haven’t put applications in at some colleges, because I love coaching at Laurel.

“They also said there was an altercation after the Tri-County meet. They said I was yelling and swearing once I got on the bus. I said talk to the bus driver. The bus driver told me, ‘What altercation?’ She said I didn’t swear at the kids, but they came back to me and said there was an altercation. The bus driver said I never raised my voice and I never swore at the kids. She said I was as nice as can be. There’s nothing that they’ve proven. The bus has audio and video recordings and when they reviewed them, there was nothing there.”

Schmitt claims he was never allowed to refute the allegations, which he was he was told originally were made by a parent.

“They didn’t even call me in the next day after that meeting (between the administration and parent) to defend myself,” he said. “They didn’t tell me what was said. They went about their work day like nothing happened. In six years, I’ve never had a written warning. They could have said ‘These parents are mad and we’re going to give you a warning.’ There was nothing just ‘You’re gone!’ ”

Schmitt said runners on the team have voiced their support.

“I talked to the kids and they’re all upset,” he noted. “They want me back. They said they wouldn’t run for another coach. Like I told the school if I did something that bad, the kids wouldn’t want me back. If it was true, they’d be like ‘We want him gone.’ If I don’t come back, a lot of these kids have said they want to hire me as a personal trainer. That, to me, shows that everything Laurel is saying isn’t true. That it’s all politics and someone wants my position.”

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