Needed: New Softball Coach

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After all of the furor regarding whether administrators can serve as coaches, the district put a little ad in the Oct. 4 Roundup that simply read, “Head Varsity Softball Coach — Payson High School - $3,232 — submit certified application and resumé to Human Resources, 902 West Main, Payson, AZ ... download application at www.pusd.k12.az.us.”

The ad placement came a year-and-a-half after Superintendent

Ron Hitchcock first told Julia Randall Principal Will Dunman he could no longer coach softball during a winning season that took Payson into the state playoffs.

During the Sept. 23 PUSD school board meeting, the community learned what it took to get that ad in the paper when Hitchcock revealed in a public meeting what normally happens behind closed doors.

By law, all meetings having to do with personnel issues happen in executive session, but in this case, Dunman asked to make public his appeal of Hitchcock’s imposition of a week’s unpaid leave on charges of insubordination related to his effort to keep the coaching job.

The only reason the board heard about the disciplinary action was because of how policy GCQF is structured, said district lawyer David Pauli.

“The first level is handled by the supervisor, but if the employee decides to appeal, it goes to the next level of supervisor,” said Pauli.

In the case of a superintendent disciplining a principal, any appeal by the principal goes to the board. After hearing Dunman’s appeal, the board directed Hitchcock to start over because he gave the principal a verbal notice of the disciplinary hearing rather than a written notice.

At this point, Pauli said the only way the PUSD board would hear anything further about any disciplinary action affecting Dunman would be if the superintendent decided again to impose the discipline after following the proper procedures and Dunman once again appealed.

At this time, no one in the district, or Pauli, will discuss what Hitchcock intends to do next.

However, on Sept. 23, Hitchcock said the board-initiated policy discouraging administrators from acting as coaches has created issues with the only administrator serving as a coach — Dunman.

For the past 14 years, Dunman has served as the head coach for the Payson High School girls softball team. Last year, his team went to the state championships and fell just two games short of a state title. In the same year as the middle school principal, Dunman helped boost the school’s state grade from a D to a B.

Hitchcock revealed that ever since his hiring in 2012, the board has pressed him to stop allowing administrators to coach.

The salary range for an elementary principal runs from $61,000 and $76,000 for a 12-month contract, while the range for a teacher is $32,320 and rises to $61,820 for a nine-month contract. The additional $3,200 could add a significant boost to a teacher’s salary.

At its Aug. 26 meeting, the board vigorously debated, with much community input, whether administrators should receive the coach’s stipend. However, at its Sept. 9 meeting, the board decided to leave it up to the superintendent.

Board member Jim Quinlan questioned whether an administrator had enough time to do both jobs. He said he made the tough decision to step down from his position as chair of the English department when he took on the responsibility of head boys basketball coach when he taught at Payson High School.

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