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Sean Carty reinstated as Mead football coach

Assistant superintendent overturns firing; parent group vows to fight back

UPDATED: Fri., May 22, 2015

Sean Carty is back on track as long-time football coach at Mead High School. Carty was fired, but appealed the decision and was reinstated on Thursday. (Dan Pelle)
Sean Carty is back on track as long-time football coach at Mead High School. Carty was fired, but appealed the decision and was reinstated on Thursday. (Dan Pelle)
Sean Carty has pulled off the biggest victory of his coaching career – at least personally. Carty was reinstated as Mead’s football coach in a decision announced late Thursday. He was fired in late March after a three-month investigation by Mead School District officials that included alleged WIAA violations. Carty appealed his dismissal first to Mead principal Mark St. Clair, who had recommended the firing. Last week, St. Clair denied the appeal. The next step for Carty was to appeal to district administration. He and his attorney met with assistant superintendent Pam Veltri for 5½ hours on Tuesday. Veltri announced her decision on Thursday. “Our appeal leaned heavy on the contract language,” Carty said. “We didn’t feel the allegations were strong.” Concerned parents had given the district a list of allegations of violations by Carty. That prompted a three-month investigation. The reinstatement is not only a win for Carty but would appear to be precedent setting for non-renewable contracts. Coaches are hired on one year contracts, and those contracts are separate from teaching contracts. St. Clair said Friday he’s not sure if he’ll appeal the reinstatement to the school board. “I haven’t had a chance to confer with the human resources department,” St. Clair said. “I have five business days to decide.” “It’s a very, very bad decision and sets a bad precedent because rules have been violated and the school district is confused about those rules,” Greg Bade, parent of a football player, said on behalf of the concerned parents. “Here’s the big problem. The school district has been handling this as if the coaching contract is the same as the teaching contract. The school district will be accountable for their actions one way or the other.” Carty said that all non-renewable contracts are not the same from school district to school district. “There was a lot of learning on both sides regarding contract language,” Carty said. “It took time to sort through it. I researched a lot of articles around the country about non-renewable contracts. I felt this was a cause to stick in there for. “There was a group of people who were very upset and tried to do an end run and didn’t use proper protocol,” Carty added. “They made noise and produced a lawyer.” Carty understands there’s a sizeable rift in the program. “I fought the good fight and it’s time to start mending fences,” Carty said. That appears to be a sizeable task. Bade said that parents submitted documentation to the school district that shows violations of WIAA and school district policy. Among this evidence, Bade says, is documentation that there were unauthorized practices that lead to student-athletes suffering injuries. Bade also said that players have suffered injuries, including concussion, and following medical clearance returned to play without meeting the required practices to be eligible to play. He said a number of WIAA violations have been documented, demonstrating a failure of leadership. Mead officials have declined to talk about specifics of the case. Many of the juniors to be will either transfer or choose not to play football at Mead in the fall, Bade said. “I hope that’s not true,” Carty said. “My goal is to welcome them back and understand that we all have our opinions. My goal is to set them at ease. My goal isn’t to punish or make examples of them. Whether or not they’re in, that’s their call. If they choose not to be a part of Mead football I respect their decision and we need to move along with the guys who want to be here. I’m worried about the kids not the adults.” Carty stopped short of saying he’d reach out to the disgruntled parents. He said it’s something he will give much thought about doing. “Time heals all wounds,” Carty said. “I’m not angry. A lot of people would be surprised to hear that. I’m hurt but not angry.” Carty has been Mead’s coach for 14 years. His teams are a combined 87-61 including a 12-1 record in 2005 and 10-2 mark in 2012 when the Panthers were Greater Spokane League champs. Bade said the parents will not go away. “In the words of Patrick Henry, we have only just begun to fight,” Bade said. “Let me put this in bold italics with 50 exclamation points. It’s never been about wins or losses. This is not personal. It’s not a personal vendetta with Sean Carty. It’s an unhealthy culture that’s been allowed to develop at Mead. That’s what this is about. The football program is a symptom of a much larger problem at Mead. When the truth comes out concerning the depth of dysfunction at Mead, the Mead community will have much to be upset about.”
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