LWSD Superintendent: Cheerleading coach dismissal was justified
By MARY STEVENS DECKER
Redmond Reporter Reporter
December 8, 2008 · 9:41 AM
The Lake Washington School District (LWSD) concluded its investigation of matters related to the dismissal of Redmond High School cheerleading coach Ronda Thomas and found that it was properly conducted and justified, according to LWSD Superintendent Dr. Chip Kimball.
On Dec. 5, Kimball shared this message with the president of the RHS Cheer Boosters — who was then asked to distribute it to other interested parties. The district’s director of communications, Kathryn Reith, forwarded Kimball’s message to the Redmond Reporter:
“Concerned Parents and Students,
A large number of you attended the Nov. 3 board meeting to provide testimony regarding the termination of RHS Cheerleader coach (Ronda) Thomas. This testimony was in addition to a number of e-mails I received regarding the cheerleader situation.
I understand the passion our parents and students have for the cheerleading program at RHS, and appreciate the effort to make sure your voices have been heard. As indicated at the board meeting, I am committed to ensuring that employees are treated fairly, and in accordance with the law. And as a result, I agreed to look further into the situation.
In reviewing the comments at the board meeting, I found the public comments fell into the following general categories: 1) support for (Ronda’s) coaching skills, style, contribution to cheer at RHS and in the area, as well as praise for her motivational work and positive impact on the lives of students; 2) expression of confidence in (Ronda’s) safety level in working with students; 3) concerns that a few parents who were unhappy with the direction of the cheer squad were behind the removal of the coach; 4) concern that proper due process was not followed and 5) request that the district consider giving (Ronda) a second chance, if mistakes were made.
These comments were taken seriously and were considered during my review.
As this is a personnel matter, I cannot share the specific details regarding the decision to remove (Ronda) Thomas as the RHS cheerleading coach. I can, however, share the results of my review. I found the following:
As it relates to the investigation I found that:
• The investigation was conducted in a manner consistent with normal district practice and process, and was properly conducted.
• The initiation of the investigation was not in response to complaints from parents.
In my review of the decision to remove (Ronda) as RHS cheer coach I found that:
• The decision to remove (Ronda) was not based on her skills as a cheer coach or her relationship with students, nor was it based upon team dynamics.
• The conclusions reached in the investigation were supported by substantiated facts.
• Due process was appropriately followed.
• The severity of consequences were fair and appropriate given the circumstances and the results of the investigation.
I know that for many of our students the loss of (Ronda) Thomas as the RHS coach comes as a disappointment. I can assure you that this decision, while difficult, was appropriately handled, is fair, and is in the best interest of our students.
I know that the RHS administrative team will do everything possible to support the cheer squad during this time of transition.
Again, thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns.
Athletic coaches are hired on a year-to-year basis. RHS teacher Ashley Northup is currently serving as the RHS cheer coach and hiring for next year will happen at a later date, according to Reith.Contact Redmond Reporter Reporter Mary Stevens Decker at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 867-0353, ext. 5052.