The Olympia School Board will meet in executive session tonight to reconsider the school district’s decision to not renew Capital High School boys basketball coach Doug Galloway’s contract, and it will likely hear from dozens of parents and students who plan to attend its earlier regular meeting to show support for the coach.
As of Friday, district spokesman Ryan Betz said the Olympia School District had received 19 formal citizen complaints – one that was signed by a group of 45 parents and community members – urging them to reinstate Galloway, who was dismissed after the district’s investigation of a hazing incident involving Capital basketball team members at a Western Washington University camp in Bellingham in June.
School Board members say they’ve received numerous phone calls from their constituents as well.
“A lot of the people have had him as a coach or a teacher, and really like him as a person and a mentor,” said Olympia School Board president Mark Campeau. “They feel really strongly in support of him.”
He said the executive session, which will follow the regular board meeting and is not open to the public, is the first chance for a quorum of the board to get together to talk about the issue. Although several parents commented on the ordeal during the board’s Aug. 27 meeting, board members weren’t allowed to discuss it because it wasn’t an agenda item and it involved a personnel matter, Campeau said.
“We haven’t really met about it, and with the rules and laws that we live by, we have not had the ability to have a discussion about it,” he said. “We, really, as a board have not been able to speak about it as a group.”
Campeau said the executive session also will give board members a chance to hear from all of the administrators who were involved with the situation.
“There’s been lots of investigation, lots of interviews, lots of information, and a lot that we have not been privy to,” he said.
Several Capital High School parents and community members have launched a campaign to fight for Galloway’s reinstatement. They’ve called School Board members, written to the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and filed citizen complaints with the district. In addition, a Facebook page titled “Support Coach Doug Galloway” was created Aug. 24, and has received 2,200 “likes.”
A large group is planning to attend tonight’s meeting to ask for Galloway’s reinstatement.
Capital High parent Shelly Davis said the district made a mistake letting the coach go.
“I just think he’s a really nice guy,” she said. “I don’t think he was treated fairly.”
On Aug. 22, the district announced that Galloway had been stripped of his basketball coaching duties because he didn’t provide adequate supervision during the camp at Western, where campus police investigated “forced sexual contact” between students. Galloway also failed to submit permission forms for the camp, which would have outlined a supervision plan, Betz said.
Galloway was allowed to continue as a teacher and as Capital’s girls golf coach.
The Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office declined to file criminal charges in connection with the June 29 incident, saying that one of the victim’s parents did not want to pursue criminal charges.
Galloway told the investigating campus police officer that several younger boys were in a dorm room when eight older players stormed a room and wrestled three of the younger boys to the ground. One of the boys said that an older boy “put his finger in his butt.”
The district hired former administrator Kevin Evoy to conduct a separate investigation. Betz said officials did not factor the police investigation in its disciplinary decisions for Galloway or the students. Betz has not provided specific information about the students who were disciplined, but said they received both athletic and academic sanctions.
School Board member Justin Montermini said he’s heard from many of his constituents, and the majority have been in support of Galloway’s reinstatement. But that doesn’t make reinstating Galloway a slam-dunk decision, he said.
“It’s a pretty heated and complicated issue, and my hope is that we can figure out a way we can resolve it as amicably as possible for all the parties involved,” Montermini said. “There are really two sides to this, and we have to look at the families and students involved and make sure to honor their concerns.”
Wednesday was the first day of school at Capital, and Galloway said he was glad to be back teaching, being around students and around the basketball players. Hundreds of students showed their support Wednesday by wearing specially designed bright yellow T-shirts in support of Galloway that read “Bring Him Back” on the front and “Galloway” on the back.
Students also wore the T-shirts during Friday’s Spaghetti Bowl football game between Capital and Olympia.
“I want him to come back – he seems like a good person,” said 14-year-old Mica Livingston, who wore one of the shirts at the game.
“Everyone wants him back because he’s a really good coach,” added 14-year-old Janie York, who said she plans to buy one of the T-shirts when the next batch is created.
Galloway, who teaches physical education at Capital, said the support from students, staff, parents and community members has meant “the world to me.”
“It’s been something I’ve never expected, but greatly appreciate,” he said.
Galloway said he will not attend tonight’s meeting, but he still wants to coach boys basketball at Capital, where he graduated in 1984. He said that if the School Board upholds his dismissal, he will look to coach boys basketball elsewhere.
Galloway has 22 years of boys basketball coaching experience at White River, Kentwood and Capital high schools.
Galloway called the players in the program “resilient” as they move forward. The 2012-13 basketball season begins in late November.
“My hope is whether I am their basketball coach or someone else is their basketball coach, that they work hard and reach their full potential,” he said.
If you go
The Olympia School Board will meet at 6:30 p.m. today in the gymnasium at Madison Elementary School, 1225 Legion Way SE, Olympia. After the meeting, the board will conduct an executive session to discuss a personnel matter, which will include the basketball camp incident and coach Doug Galloway’s contract. The public is welcome to attend the regular board meeting, and anyone can address the board during the time reserved for community comment. The executive session will be closed to the public. For more information, call 360-596-6103 or go to www.osd.wednet.edu.