School board meeting heated after coach loses job
Although Western Placer Unified School District’s board meetings are typically quiet, more than three dozen parents and players showed up Tuesday night in support of former Lincoln High School football coach Peter Manley.
Manley was fired Sept. 25.
During public comment, parents alleged that Manley and the rest of the community were not notified of why the junior varsity defensive coordinator was fired halfway through the season, which has made room for speculation.
A rumor that Manley was fired over a photo posted on his personal Facebook page of his team standing for the National Anthem, captioned “I stand,” was discussed.
“We would not dismiss personnel specifically because of that reason,” said Western Placer Unified School District Superintendent Scott Leaman at the meeting.
The district allegedly received an anonymous letter three days before Manley’s release. District officials said they could not legally disclose what the letter’s contents were, who it came from or when it was received.
Parent speakers at the meeting said the letter was connected to the incident.
Details about Manley’s firing could not be released because it was a personnel manner, according to Leaman.
Directly after the meeting, Leaman told The Lincoln News Messenger that the board’s current policy rests on past conduct during similar incidents. He cited Section 1312.1 of the board’s policy, which states the board has developed regulations to protect those submitting complaints regarding district employees and that a complainant’s identity may remain confidential. The policy can be accessed from the district website.
Five parents, five players and one former board member who spoke at the meeting demanded answers.
According to former district board member Glenn Vineyard, Manley was told the district wanted to go in a different direction upon his release, which many felt was unfair.
The anonymous letter also raised eyebrows.
“Is that how that works? If I don’t like somebody, I can just write an anonymous letter?” said parent April Aguilera, whose son played for Manley for a decade.
Speakers expressed their high opinions of Manley. According to some parent speakers, Manley is active in the Lincoln community as a firefighter and first-responder. They said he taught the players character, made sure they stayed on top of schoolwork and checked on them when they were injured.
“He wasn’t just our coach or our friend’s dad. He was family,” said football player Guy Hamasaki.
Following public comment, parents requested the item be placed on a future board agenda and implored Leaman and Lincoln High School Principal Jay Berns to reverse the decision.
Leaman explained Manley’s release was administrative in nature and not board-related.
“The decision is final,” Leaman said. “I don’t know how to put that a different way.”
In other news:
- The district examined and gave input on a new marketing campaign for Western Placer Unified School District, which seeks to retain students within the Lincoln community, particularly at the elementary level.
According to Leaman, high school enrollment within the district is high but elementary school enrollment has dropped for unknown reasons. To get back to previous enrollment levels, Leaman said, the district will need to enroll “hundreds of (elementary) students”.
- Leaman also announced that a military academy, the California Cadet Corps, might come to Lincoln High School’s campus, providing opportunities for students interested in military training.
The program comes in response to the loss of Lincoln High’s ROTC program, at which point students joined ROTC at Whitney High School in Rocklin. A few years ago, according to the meeting’s agenda packet, students switched schools when Whitney High’s program required all participants to be enrolled there.
To make up for the unmet need at Lincoln High, Leaman said the California Cadet Corps could be on campus by next fall. Although the program is not directly related to the five main branches of the national military, Leaman said, the Cadet Corps is like California’s military, similar to a National Guard organization.
The program has been around since 1911 and more than 6,000 students are enrolled statewide. It has no minimum student involvement, unlike ROTC, which required at least 100 students to operate.
The item was informal at this stage and no action was taken.
The next Western Placer Unified School District board meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at Lincoln Crossing Elementary, 635 Groveland Lane.