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Friday, February 13th, 2009

Parkway board rehires coach

Action comes after residents speak out in favor of baseball coach Eric Stachler

By Janie Southard
ROCKFORD - Parkway's varsity baseball coach was rehired by a board vote of 4-1 following some controversy and a lengthy executive session at the board of education meeting Thursday.
Physical education teacher Eric Stachler, who has served as the school's varsity baseball coach for the past five years, did not receive board approval at a January school board meeting to coach this coming season.
The vote at that meeting, following an executive session, was 3-2 with "no" votes from board members Betty DuBry, Randy Shellabarger and Kim Brandt, who also was the lone "no" vote Thursday night.
Board members hired Stachler back as coach after several residents spoke in his favor Thursday night.
In a nutshell, the board members apparently learned of "concerns from parents" following last year's baseball season. However, it was not until a few weeks before the January board meeting that Stachler was told of the concerns and advised to "deal with them," according to an informed source.
District Superintendent Greg Puthoff and board President Dana Smith were quick to say that measures have since been taken so that the "poor timing" (the more than six months lapse) to bring concerns to the teacher/coach will "never happen again."
Several community members, none related to Stachler, voiced their own concerns about how his dismissal as coach was handled.
Susie Miller of Rockford first asked if Shellabarger's position on the January vote represented a conflict of interest as his son is on the baseball team. Puthoff said, according to law, Shellabarger would have to be related in some way to Stachler. However, board members all have three voting options: yes, no and abstain.
She then questioned why Stachler was given only about a month to address concerns.
"He has a 20-6 record, which certainly says he's doing something right ... I wonder if this is just a parent complaint because a child didn't get to play ... You know it's so hard to coach here, hard to please everyone," said Miller, whose husband was the school's basketball coach for many years.
The reason for Stachler's dismissal was never discussed in open session as is permitted under Ohio's open meetings law (Sunshine Law).
Another community member, Kendra Miller, no relation to Susie Miller or Stachler, described herself as "just a mom" and commented on how the board disregarded the recommendations of three staff advisers to keep Stachler as coach. Those advisers are Puthoff, high school Principal Brian Fortkamp and Athletic Director Doug Hughes.
"Your own advisers, who were just appointed because, I assume, they are the best for the positions recommended rehiring Stachler, but you disregarded their advice," she said. "It scares me that you have so little confidence in your own advisers and you would override their recommendations."
Following the executive session involving the board, Puthoff, Stachler, Hughes and Parkway teachers' union President Ann Marie Imwalle, the board added the rehiring of Stachler to the meeting agenda.
In other action, the board accepted the resignation of Marcia Hoffhines, effective Oct. 1, after 26 years as a school secretary, and the resignation of Kathie Stachler, effective the end of this school year, after 25 years teaching.
Of Hoffhines, board member Bob Ransbottom offered his vote "with regret," saying Hoffhines was his secretary for more than 13 years and did a "great job."
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