School Committee to Investigate Allegations of Undertrained Coaches at BHS
Issue brought to the committee by a concerned resident.
Burlington’s School Committee had its first meeting since the new school year started on Tuesday, Sept. 13.
The meeting began with resident Kevin Russell, who brought a detailed memo regarding safety concerns for Burlington High School athletes. According to Russell, the school’s athletic department has failed to monitor and enforce state law and Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) requirements regarding training for athletic coaches. The regulations require that certain coaches complete concussion training, First aid training, basic coaching training and sports specific training in order to work with student athletes and insure their safety.
According to a memorandum submitted to Burlington Patch by Russell, Burlington High School has 71 coaches working with students and of those, 13 percent have not completed concussion training, 85 percent have failed to complete the “Fundamentals of Coaching” course and 99 percent have not received sport specific training. Furthermore, according to Russell, only one coach has registered for first aid training. Russell provided a copy of the memorandum and back up documentation to the School Committee.
“I am asking you to inquire into this so we can be sure our kids are safe and secure,” said Russell.
School Committee Chair Steve Nelson stated that the committee would investigate the matter and would consult with Edward Gillis, Director of Athletics, Health and Physical Education at Burlington High School. Russell stated that this information was presented to Mr. Gillis two weeks prior to the School Committee meeting.
Click the link for the National Federation of State High School Associations coach search that shows current coach certifcations for more information.
Chairman Nelson indicated that the matter would be set as an agenda item at a future School Committee meeting and encouraged Mr. Russell to return for that discussion.
Next the School Committee heard from student representative Walter Kikuchi who spoke eloquently about the difficult and emotional situation at Burlington High School following the sudden death of a fellow student last weekend. Kikuchi praised the school administration for its open and honest dialogue with students. He also stated that student mentors will be undergoing suicide prevention training and meeting with freshmen next week to lead discussions on the subject.
Dr. Conti, Superintendent of Schools, also remarked on the sadness of the students and staff before resolutely returning to the agenda.
Conti informed the School Committee that opening day of the 2011-2012 school year went smoothly and praised staff members of the Memorial School and Marshall Simonds Middle School whom he said worked exceptionally hard to prepare their facilities for opening day. Conti acknowledged some difficulties with new bus schedules and routes and said that he will meet with principals next week to determine if adjustments are necessary. Some buses have reportedly been late possibly due to new routes and possibly due to the prevalence of construction around the town.
Craig Robinson, Director of Finance and Operations, stated that the school department has received the “normal” amount of requests for additional bus stops. He will meet with the town’s safety officer and the bus company next week to determine if new stops must be added.
“If there is a safety issue, we will add a stop,” said Robinson.
Mr. Robinson also updated the School Committee on the department’s two building projects. Although the Memorial School is open, the administration is working out some minor issues with phone service and lighting and, according to Robinson, the building committee will meet next week to make a recommendation regarding sod versus seed for the school’s field.
The addition at Marshall Simonds Middle School is progressing nicely, according to Robinson, although the construction was delayed due to Hurricane Irene in August. Robinson said that the crew is not far behind and is currently working a second shift in order to catch up.
“We still expect that they will turn the new addition over to us in April 2012 and will turn kitchen over to us in January 2012,” said Robinson.
Lastly, the School Committee reviewed some upcoming events at Memorial School. The Community rededication of the school will take place on Saturday, Sept. 17 from 2 to 5 p.m. and the Taste of Burlington will be held at the new school on Monday, Sept. 19 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The School Committee is scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m.