Bethlehem Academy Denies Boelter Open Meeting, Supporters Undaunted
Supporters of ousted Faribault Bethlehem Academy Volleyball Coach Franz Boelter are moving forward with a meeting even though the school has canceled theirs. Last week Boelter informed the school in writing his desire to to have an open meeting on February 21st. The date the BA Board of Directors were scheduled to meet.
Boelter was told of a state law passed a few years ago and amended last year that requires coaches to receive the reasons for not renewing their contract in writing and quoting from Minnesota Statute 122A.33 Subdivision 3, "Upon request, the board must provide the coach with a reasonable opportunity to respond to the reasons at a board meeting. The hearing may be opened or closed at the election of the coach unless the board closes the meeting to discuss private data."
Apparently that law, amended last session to include the language, "The existence of parent complaints must not be the sole reason for a board not to renew a coaching contract", does not apply to private or parochial school coaches.
I spoke with Minnesota School Boards Association Executive Director Kirk Schneidawind and he indicated if the law doesn't specifically mention the private and parochial schools then they are not included. He told me to contact the Minnesota High School Coaches Association because they were behind getting the law passed.
MSHSCA Executive Director John Schumacher of Park Rapids is checking with his legal department to make sure it's right that only public schools are covered by the law.
It appears if you are a coach at a private or parochial school you don't receive the same protections as a public school coach. Protection may be the wrong word to use. Pine Island retiring Athletic Director Craig Anderson told me all coaches contracts are, "Annual contracts and the school board can decide to not renew at any time."
The law was passed to allow coaches to have an opportunity to respond to any reasons given but a board can simply say they want to go in a different direction with no specifics about why.
A letter went out to families, alumni and staff Friday that said in part, "As part of the ongoing good faith effort of Bethlehem Academy to address the concerns of Mr. Boelter, we have accepted Mr. Boelter's invitation and will meet privately with him early next week."
The rest of the letter goes like this, exactly how it is written.
"Also, because the Board of Directors considered the recommendation not to offer Mr. Boelter a coaching contract in it's meeting this past week, there is no need for the board to meet on February 21 and the meeting has been canceled."
"Out of respect for the privacy of all parties, we have no other public comment at this time.. However we can tell you this matter does not concern parent complaints about student playing time, as some have speculated."
"Yours in faith and service, signed Dr. Chuck Briscoe, President/Principal and Jim Beckmann, Board Chair.
The Fight For Franz group has decided to go forward with a meeting showing support for Boelter.
The group decided they wanted to show support for the longtime BA Coach and share their thoughts and concerns in a non-combative forum. Not everyone will be able to speak.
Organizers are requesting people write down their comments and leave a hard copy at the meeting.
The event takes place Wednesday, February 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Faribault American Legion.