Teachers go to the hoops for embattled Port Townsend basketball coach

PORT TOWNSEND — Some of their voices shaking with emotion and others retaining the clear diction of educators, Port Townsend teachers told their School Board on Monday night that athletic director Russ Hickman has not been treated fairly.

The remarks came less than a week after the board asked Hickman to resign from his job as high school head varsity basketball coach over “off-and-on ongoing problems on the coaching end,” said School Board Chair Loren Monroe last week.

Hickman, who has not resigned, would remain as a teacher and athletic director.

The School Board, at press time Monday night, had not made any decision on Hickman’s status as basketball coach.

John Stroeder, former head girls basketball coach, was named boys basketball coach for the remainder of the season.

Packed audience

About 60 parents, teachers, community members and students packed the board meeting room and told the board that a teacher should not learn about his resignation in a newspaper.

More than 12 people discussed the issue during the public comment period of an otherwise routine board meeting, which did not include Hickman’s resignation on the agenda.

“My job, my reputation, my personal character as a teacher, as a coach, as a citizen of Port Townsend, could be seriously damaged by the decision of a few individuals,” said Kevin Sanford, the track, field and cross county coach, reading a letter he addressed to the board.

Other statements from teachers carried a similar message. They expressed fear that any one of them could be unjustly damaged by the school district administration’s failure to follow personnel procedures.

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