The Duluth School Board voted 5-2 to reinstate former East High School
boys hockey coach Mike Randolph on Tuesday night.
Board members Mike Akervik, Mary Cameron, Tim Grover, Tom Hustad and
Ann Wasson voted in favor of the measure, and board members Laura Condon
and Dorothy Neumann voted against it. The move came after 90 minutes of
closed-session discussion among board members.
"This is not about hockey," Randolph said in an address to
his supporters in the halls of the Central Administration Building after
the vote. "They wronged me, and I wanted to make sure that this never
Citing privacy laws, district administrators have not publicly stated
why Randolph wasn't reappointed for the 2003-04 school year. Randolph said
he was told it was because of complaints from parents, questions about
fund raising and a desire to take the program in a different direction.
An internal audit released in May found that an annual Christmas wreath
sale that benefited the East hockey program was mismanaged. In December,
the Minnesota state auditor released a review that confirmed the
district's findings. Fund-raiser organizers, including assistant coach
Terry Johnson, deny intentional wrongdoing.
Duluth school district administrators reiterated citations of policy
Tuesday that extracurricular assignments are renewed on an annual basis
and can not be renewed with no cause, as is the policy across Minnesota
The move to reinstate Randolph and assistant coaches Larry Trachsel and
Johnson for the 2004-05 hockey season was brought forward this month by
board members Cameron, Grover and Hustad.
They said district policies and procedures, such as annual performance
reviews and the use of an athletic grievance process to deal with
complaints, were not followed.
"I've always looked at this as a fairness issue," Hustad
More than 125 people attended Tuesday night's meeting.
"It is in the best interest of students of East High School and
East High School that Mike Randolph not be reinstated," East
principal Laurie Knapp told board members before the vote.
She beseeched board members to trust and support the administration by
standing by the April 2003 nonrenewal of Randolph's coaching assignment.
Superintendent Julio Almanza and district human resources director Rob
McLachlan repeated Tuesday night that they stand by that decision.
The board's interest and action with an individual employee and
position is unusual, but chairwoman Cameron said that board members were
exerting one of their most important roles as elected officials.
"If we don't make sure administration is following policies and
procedures, who will?" she said.
The revival of the reinstatement effort came after November 2003 School
Board elections that changed the board's makeup.
Before those elections, a June 17 reinstatement effort failed 7-2. The
makeup of the School Board changed after the November 2003 elections when
the board was trimmed from nine members to seven, with three new members
-- Grover, Hustad and Wasson.
Those board members bristled and defended themselves from insinuations
by other board members and community members that their election was
related to Randolph's reinstatement.
"I owe no favors to no one," said Hustad, who worked with
Randolph's wife before he retired from dental practice.
"I hope that now, finally, the School Board can move on to bigger
issues," said current East hockey coach Todd Wentworth, who has said
he won't seek other coaching positions in the district.