A Williamson County Schools investigation found that Brentwood High School Track and Field coaches improperly trained students for pay outside of school, according to a letter to parents from Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney.
Also, BHS administrators also facilitated the violation of WCS Board policy 5.608 Tutoring for Pay by giving the coaches incorrect information about whether they could or could not give private training for pay.
Board and state education policy forbid taking direct payment from parents for private training, the letter states, because it prevents conflicts of interest when a parent feels obligated to pay a school employee for services they are already being paid to do.
“Some coaches were told that they could not charge parents for track services during the season but could charge parents in the off-season,” the letter states, in regard to coaches being given incorrect instruction by BHS Principal Kevin Keidel and athletic director Ron Seigenthaler, who knew about complaints from parents about this behavior. This had been going on for years, Looney explained, dating back as far as 2012. Policy does not distinguish between on and off season. Looney, in a media session Tuesday, said appropriate action was taken with the administrators who made a mistake but still have the superintendent’s full faith.
One coach, in particular, volunteer assistant coach Guy Avery, “violated even that incorrect instruction and was seeking and receiving direct payment from parents during the season while working as a coach for WCS,” the letter states.
Avery is no longer welcome at WCS facilities, Looney said. Avery, Looney added, was charging up to $300 to $500 a month per student.
“Essentially Avery was charging parents to coach their children,” Looney said.
In response to the argument that parents were choosing to pay coaches for helping their children above and beyond, Dr. Looney quoted an e-mail from Avery that read “give me your car if you can’t afford to pay me” and that kind of language did not sound like a choice to him.
He said the district spent hundreds of hours thoroughly investigating the situation.
The letter states that some other coaches also decided to resign, but does not name them.
In addition to the tutoring policy, some of the coaches were using BHS facilities and equipment for their training of students, breaking board policy of Community Use of School Facilities. The letter says that “that policy prohibits for-profit entities from using WCS facilities unless contracted by WCS to perform a particular service.”
“Brentwood High School leaders should have been aware of this improper use of facilities and did nothing to stop that use,” the letter states. “At the same time, across the district, other for-profit entities who requested use of the facilities were denied that use based on the policy terms. This administrative failure placed WCS in the position of violating federal equal access laws related to the use of facilities.”