Abusive Coaches: Lawmaker Says Oregon Could Crack Down More
This week’s edition of WW looks at Central Catholic High School’s football team and the hiring practices that allowed the high school to twice hire coaches who faced sexual misconduct allegations at prior schools.
The story noted that Central Catholic is not alone in Oregon in facing challenges when it comes to keeping tabs on coaches. The state doesn’t require teaching licenses to coach school sports, for example. That means that the state regulators who discipline teachers at the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission have no jurisdiction over coaches. Meanwhile, the TSPC can discipline teachers even if they don’t face criminal charges for abuse.
In 2009, the Legislature enacted a number of changes to state law that attempted to end the practice of “passing the trash” among school districts—that is, keeping quiet about an educator’s past when a new school district tries to hire that person.
One component of the 2009 changes affects more than just teachers. It now requires schools to tell a past employee’s new employer about “substantiated” claims of abuse, including sexual abuse, by the employee. That rules covers coaches, too.
But state Rep. Betty Komp (D-Woodburn), a former school principal, says the state may need to do more to crack down on abusive coaches.
“We as a Legislature do have a responsibility to look further into this issue,” Komp tells WW. “What we did in 2009 has not stopped this behavior.”
Meanwhile, Central Catholic released a statement about its decision to part ways with a second football coach.
Dear Central Catholic Football Parent,
This letter comes at a time when the celebration of our second state championship is still fresh in our minds. We are proud of your son and the CCHS football team. Unfortunately, this letter is to address recent events that may have come to your attention regarding members of the CCHS football
On Monday, December 15, 2014, CCHS Administration learned that football coach Jon Taylor had been the subject of a police report while employed as an educational assistant at Parkrose High School in 2010. The details of this report were brought to light this week by our local media. After receiving knowledge of the report and reviewing its contents, CCHS Administration spoke with Mr. Taylor and decided to not renew his contract for the 2015 season or subsequent seasons.
Upon hire, Jon Taylor completed his coaching certifications and passed our equired FBI and Oregon State Police background check. Based upon this information, he was cleared for regular employment as a coach at Central Catholic. Since his hire, there have been no reports of impropriety by Mr. Taylor.
It is very important that you know we take this issue and the safety of all our students very seriously. Until a recent legislative change, schools were only required to share years of employment when personnel requests were received. Consequently, criminal background checks only would reflect convictions and not allegations of misconduct, leaving the requesting school without all the information needed to make a good hire. The current application process is now expanded to include a form that goes to the previous employer (school district) asking if the applicant has been the subject of “substantiated report of child abuse or sexual misconduct”. All new employees are subject to the enhanced background check.
Our main concern has always been, and continues to be, our students. We are aware that each one of the boys may feel differently regarding recent events and are coping with this situation in a variety of ways. Some may be expressing anger and they feel like the media is unfairly focusing on our school. Many are likely confused and feeling the loss of trusted coaches.
Simply put, they are most likely going through some stages of grief and may need support. As parents, you are the first choice for students to share their feelings and to get support. Some may also request to access their counselor. Counselors and administrators are more than willing and available to help individual students as needed. We want students to know that we are a resource if they wish to share their feelings or have questions.
It is our sincere hope that time will allow all to heal and rebuild trust as we work to come to terms with the recent events. Please know the staff of Central Catholic cares for your son and we will do whatever necessary to help them.