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School board addresses Lakeridge football program

by: REVIEW FILE PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge's Ryan Dunham came up with an interception during the Pacers 20-14 victory over Lake Oswego on Oct. 18.Lakeridge High School officials did not ensure that all football coaches met Oregon Schools Activities Association regulations, and a lack of strong leadership led to unsportsmanlike conduct with a penalty count well above any of its local competitors last football season, according to a report released Monday.

Lakeridge Principal Jennifer Schiele created a report based on a five-week review of the program in the wake of concerns surrounding sportsmanship, coaching and player eligibility at Lakeridge. The Lake Oswego School Board, after listening to Schiele’s presentation of her report Monday, chose to meet in executive session before its next meeting Feb. 24 to discuss personnel and student issues.

“I’ve just got some very specific things I want to ask the administrators that we don’t do in public,” said John Wendland, a board member, adding he also wanted to discuss specific students and employees.

All student players were found to have met OSAA eligibility requirements, but Schiele states in her report that she found three incidences of coaches not meeting the appropriate certification requirement for the National Federation of State High School Associations Guide to Heat Acclimatization and Heat Illness Prevention. Heat stroke from exertion “is the leading cause of preventable death in high school athletics,” according to the federation’s website. All coach certifications now will be set to a schedule with the athletic director submitting a chart with required training dates. There also will be a certification education session for football coaches.

“This violation was self-reported to OSAA and we will take responsibility for our fine from OSAA,” Schiele’s report states.

The OSAA is preparing its own report of the football program, which the group’s executive board will review in mid-March. The board would decide whether to authorize any potential sanctions for OSAA infractions, said Tom Welter, OSAA executive director.

Schiele’s report states Lakeridge logged an average of 13.83 penalties last football season as compared to the 7.92 penalty average of 12 other Portland area high school teams. Lakeridge had more penalties than its opposing team at each of its 12 games last fall.

“Please be assured that there will be no reoccurrence of the embarrassing events that transpired during this football season, and that we are determined to re-establish the positive reputation of football at Lakeridge High School,” Schiele’s report states.

Individual players were disciplined and educated as to what constitutes unsportsmanlike behavior, and Lakeridge has added statements to its athletic guidelines emphasizing that unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike fouls will not be tolerated.

Schiele said she claims full responsibility for all of the errors made and said she believes a key issue was: “We did not have an acting Lakeridge High School head coach with clear lines of authority and responsibility. I was trying to help a legendary coach pass on his legacy and retire with pride, and in that spirit I agreed to something before the season began that proved to be unworkable.”

Coach Tom Smythe in January proposed that Chad Carlson, a sports-savvy former coach at Lincoln High School who was “like a son to him,” come on board as his volunteer offensive coordinator with Smythe overseeing the overall football program, according to the report. Smythe left on a trip to Europe while Carlson remained on as the off-season coach, but the two began to have disagreements when Smythe returned in August.

Schiele called allowing the Smythe-Carlson arrangement a “a regrettable decision.”

Superintendent Bill Korach agreed, saying he suggested keeping the arrangement together because: “These are grown men for goodness sake. They can work this through.”

There were other coaching issues. In August, a volunteer coach allegedly punched a student athlete during training, and the volunteer coach was dismissed from his duties following his arrest.Smythe retired at the end of the season as he said he would. Carlson will have the opportunity to apply for the position. Lakeridge and district administrators will create an interview process and will make a candidate recommendation to the board.

Despite the issues, the Lakeridge football team last fall gave the best performance that it has in many years, including reaching the state quarterfinals for the first time in many years.

To view the report and the Monday school board meeting video, visit edline.net/pages/Lake_Oswego_School_District.

In other business at the Lake Oswego School Board meeting Monday:

  • The board chose not to offer open enrollment and to allow 10 new tuition students at elementary schools next school year. Board member Bob Barman was the sole “no” vote because he said tuition is a barrier for some students, which is unfair. Administrators recommended the move because of space constraints and uncertainty about a real estate study’s outcome. The study, slated for completion in April, will inform the board’s decision as to which properties to keep and which to sell to reduce expenses and bring in revenue. The board at a previous meeting decided to offer open enrollment next school year in grades sixth to 10th at Lakeridge High and Lakeridge Junior High schools but not at Lake Oswego High and Lake Oswego Junior High schools. Tuition students will be accepted in grades sixth to 10th grades at all four schools. There will be no new interdistrict transfers at those schools in 2014-15.

  • The board moved forward with a plan to offer a trimester of study skills in Spanish to the elective options for sixth-graders. Also, seventh-graders will be able to take Spanish I, which will count toward high school credit and diploma requirements.

  • School board chairwoman Patti Zebrowski offered an update on the superintendent search. There were about 50 applicants, and 12 were screened and had their references checked with the board selecting seven candidates to interview this week. An advisory panel of teachers, school administrators and classified staff will vet the two or three finalists, a change from the board’s initial decision to choose the superintendent without an employee panel. The board, with input from administrators, plans to reach a final decision in April, announcing the new superintendent in May. Korach will leave in June.

  • A senior planner at the city deemed the district’s application for improvements to the Lakeridge stadium incomplete and requested further information, which district administrators plan to submit by the end of this week. There’s a chance the planner may not be satisfied with the additional information and that the application could be denied.

    Jillian Daley can be reached at jdaley@lakeoswegoreview.com and 503-636-1281, ext. 109. Follow her on Twitter, @JillianDaley.

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