Coaching controversy reaffirms valuable lesson for community

AMARILLO, Texas — The Kori Clements Coaching Era at Amarillo High School was far too short-lived than the former coach and most of the community she served had ever intended.

Clements quit as Amarillo High School’s girls volleyball coach and tossed out some bitter medicine for the school district and the community at-large to swallow. It was that she left because of pressure she alleged she got from the parent of one of the girls she coached; the parent, allegedly a member of the school board, harassed Clements because she wasn’t giving her daughter enough playing time.

The Amarillo public school trustees accepted her resignation Tuesday night. Then they adjourned what had been a sometimes-testy public meeting and they all went home.

We are talking about a public school system, financed by public money and governed by public laws. It is unacceptable for the governing board to hide behind some policy that prohibits it from commenting on personnel matters. There needs to be a public airing of what went wrong and a public discussion about how to fix it.

To that end, I hope the Amarillo Independent School District trustees and administrators begin with some candid conversation with the offending parent and make changes to avoid a repeat of this kind of hectoring of the next Amarillo HS volleyball coach.

This sad episode simply drives home a fundamental point about public education. We entrust our educators — be they classroom teachers or coaches, band directors or theater directors — to do right by our children. We expect our educators to be fair, to be stern if necessary, to be caring. We also should expect our public school administrators to have our educators’ back if the educator is doing all the right things.

Kori Clements apparently did her job well for the single season she was allowed to do it. But she didn’t have that support from the administration or the board. The school system failed the coach and by extension failed the student-athletes she was hired to lead in athletic competition.

That dereliction of public responsibility cannot be allowed to stand.

I’m going home Thursday to Collin County. I’ll be looking back at Amarillo from time to time to see how this drama plays out. I hope the Amarillo public school community will discern some palpable change in policy.

Kori Clements deserved better than she got from the school system that hired her. Let’s hope this sad chapter ends with a reaffirmation of the need to nurture the efforts of top-quality educators.

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