Saturday, May 25, 2002

'Coach wanted' sign always out

By Michael D. Clark,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONROE — The busiest piece of equipment in Monroe Schools sports is the proverbial revolving door through which numerous coaches have been spinning in and then out of in recent years.

        Lemon-Monroe High School's boys basketball team has had four varsity coaches in four years, while the girls basketball program has had three coaches in the same time.

        The high school's football coach — Barry Pettyjohn — announced his resignation this week after only one season.

        And the turnover isn't limited to the playing fields. Monroe officials are near to hiring a high school principal to succeed interim principal Bob Quisenberry.

        Tuesday,the Monroe Board of Education is expected to announce the permanent hiring of interim boys basketball coach Tim Kellis, whose Hornets had only a 2-19 record in the Mid-Miami League this season. But he was credited for putting together a hustling group of players who competed well.

        The board is also expected to hire a girls basketball coach.

        The board will hire one of two candidates for principal of the high school — either Franklin High School Principal Bob Leahy or Edgewood High Principal Randy Smith — at Tuesday's 7 p.m. meeting at the high school media center.

        But the turnover at the smallish — about 1,400 students — but rapidly growing 2-year-old district has some wondering why?

        “All the turnover we've had has been unfortunate,” said Jon Payne, district athletic director, but explainable.

        The nature of high school athletics, especially among smaller districts, is that young, inexperienced coaches often sign up for jobs but leave when they get opportunities at larger schools, said Mr. Payne, who is among those resigning at the end of the school year.

        He said Mr. Pettyjohn's resignation is no reflection on the Monroe district, but was prompted by an opening at Deer Park High School, Mr. Pettyjohn's alma mater.

        But as Monroe grows — the city now has an estimated population of more than 7,500 — and the district's new omnibus campus opens in 2004, Mr. Payne predicts that the district will see more stability. He said coaches will be attracted to both Monroe's state-of-the-art athletic facilities and expanding student base from which to draw athletes.

        “With the new buildings coming, we'll get people who want to stay,” he said, referring to the $29.6 million kindergarten through 12th grade campus that will hold 1,700 students when completed at the corner of Ohio 63 and Yankee Road.

        Though the boys basketball coaching vacancies were largely due to coaches moving on to new schools, the girls coaching position has been racked by sudden resignations in recent years by teachers who worked in nearby districts but resigned unexpectedly under controversy.

        The most recent was John Parks, who worked at a Middletown middle school but resigned in February — in his second year of coaching the Lady Hornets — after it was reported that Mr. Parks had used a school computer to search sexually-oriented Web sites.

        In February 2000, Greg D. Brown resigned his teaching position at Madison High School, and his Monroe girls basketball coaching job, after Madison school officials learned he had provided them a phony teaching certificate.


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