Jul 29, 2014

It's 'Play Ball' at School Board Meeting

A parent who wants the Mira Costa High School varsity baseball coach fired was heard from at the Wednesday night board meeting. The school's former boys lacrosse coach also asked to be reinstated.

It's 'Play Ball' at School Board Meeting

A high school parent who wants the varsity baseball coach fired is on tonight's agenda of the Manhattan Beach Unified School District board meeting

Brian Clebowicz, whose son has played baseball at Mira Costa, is listed on the agenda under "Public and Staff Submitted Items" with the subject, "Baseball Program."

Steam has been building amid allegations of abusive and tyrannical behavior that jeopardizes the health and safety of the boys who play for Coach Cassidy Olson, according to attorney Joseph Di Monda, who is working with Clebowicz and other parents to remove Olson from his post.

The allegations against Olson were investigated. MCHS Principal Dr. Ben Dale wrote that the school investigation into the claims did not support a finding of physical, mental or emotional abuse but that the gathered evidence did support "certain allegations."

Dale also restricted Olson's coaching activities: "From now through March 24th, Coach Olson will coach during 6th period only but will not be present at scrimmages, games, tournaments or any other team activities that take place outside of the regular school day. On March 25th he will return to his full coaching duties."

Olson's assistant coaches, who presumably would step up to the plate to coach the team during Olson's absence, decided not to step in to fill his shoes as a way of supporting him, leaving the baseball program in a state of limbo.

From there, the issue has escalated, with some parents siding with the ones who want Olson ousted and others saying he has done nothing wrong and should remain the baseball program's head coach.

Di Monda Wednesday told Patch that "everything becomes bigger than it might have been otherwise" when school administrators and board members act like insurance carriers and "deny all claims," then use "benign neglect" and "keep stonewalling" in the hope that "people will just go away" and drop an issue.

MBUSD Superintendent Dr. Mike Matthews told Patch Wednesday that the baseball program "is in full progress" with Olson's assistant coaches holding after-school practices and scrimmages. Those assistants had previously not been holding such activities in support of Olson.

Matthews said by placing the baseball program on the agenda, the board can choose to respond to and discuss the item but being on the agenda "does not obligate the board to respond."

"The board has to be very careful discussing a personnel item," he said.

For his part, Olson told Patch he'd be at Wednesday night's meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the MBUSD administration building, 325 South peck Avenue. "I'm going to see what the parents and board have to say."

Olson said that he, the assistant coaches and school administrators are "on the same wave length now" and moving the program forward. 

He said allegations that he tore up doctor's notes from players are absolutely not true and that the Jan. 10 meeting he held with parents and players at the Hermosa Beach Rotary was an "informational meeting" that school officials knew about.

He noted that youths whose parents have made the allegations are playing on the club team he coaches. "You do not have to be on this club team," he said, adding that club team players pay to be on the team and that playing club ball is not a requirement for players in the MCHS baseball program.

Olson believes the parents who want him fired are assasinating his character and "grasping at straws."

In another matter not on the agenda, Chris Jewett, the former MCHS boys lacrosse varsity coach who was let go Dec. 18, 2012 amid similar allegations from parents and players, intends to speak during public comment. He and attorney Stuart Johnson will be in attendance tonight.

Johnson told Patch Wednesday that the report from the investigation into allegations against Jewett was not finalized until Jan. 22. 

He wrote in an email, "Mr. Jewett seeks reinstatement by the District in light of the District’s own report, which essentially clears Mr. Jewett of almost every allegation made against him."

Olson, unlike Jewett, is a full-time teacher at Mira Costa.

According to the Beach Reporter, the report on Jewett's behavior said the evidence supported allegations that he used inappropriate language during practices and games, but not that he: created a “pay-to-play” scenario in which players were forced to pay to play on Jewett’s club team in exchange for playing time on the varsity team, rescheduled practices because they conflicted with his club practices or gave certain players preferential treatment.

Because Jewett and the issue of the boys lacrosse team is not on the board agenda, the board cannot discuss the matter, said Matthews.

  • Previously: Mira Costa Varsity Baseball Coach's Duties Restricted
  • Previously: Mira Costa Coach Makes Statement on TV News

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