Claremont Insider: CUSD Coach Issue

Saturday, October 6, 2007

CUSD Coach Issue

In other, non-censorship news, both the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Bulletin reported this week that Claremont High School baseball coach Mike Lee resigned from his last job in Ventura County as the result of allegedly inappropriate text messages he sent between himself and his players.

Lee denied any impropriety in the messages.

Lee, who last year coached baseball at Westlake High School and who taught at Newbury Park High in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, resigned the Westlake job last May. According to the two newspaper articles, Lee had told Claremont administrators he had resigned at Westlake due to personal health issues.

The Times article reported that Devon Freitas, assistant superintendent for human resources for Claremont Unified School District (CUSD), said that he had received "'glowing letters of recommendation' from [Westlake Principal Ron] Lipari and from former Newbury Park High Principal Max Beaman...."

But, the Times article also stated that Lipari said no one from CUSD ever contacted him during the time Lee was interviewing for a job here.

The Times report goes on to say that Lee's official reason for resigning the Westlake post was due to health reasons. However, the health issues seemed to be the result of complaints by parents over Lee's text-messaging some of his players.

The Times obtained copies of memos from the Conejo Valley Unified School District, and they showed:

Lipari's heavily redacted memo to Newbury Park Principal Athol Wong detailed meetings between Lee and Westlake administrators.

The first came on March 19 at Lee's request. Lee said a parent had told him to resign or he would go to the district and school authorities with e-mails and text messages to his son, the memo said.

Lee said he never inappropriately touched the player,Lipari's memo said. Lee explained to Passalacqua and another administrator that he had a "father-son relationship" with the player and acknowledged saying "Love You" in text messages, Lipari wrote.

Passalacqua reminded Lee that he had been told to stop text-messaging all players. Lee said he had stopped, except for one player. Lee said he "felt he did not do anything wrong and wanted to keep his job," the memo said.

Lee had reportedly sent another text message to one student after he had agreed to stop the messages, and the Times article quoted a memo regarding a March 20, 2007, meeting where:

"Mike said he realized the seriousness of his actions, and he admitted to defying our directive to not text-message or call individual players," Lipari wrote. "Since Mike admitted to defying our administrative directive, and due to the seriousness of the text messages, I agreed that it would be in everyone's best interest if he resigned."

The Bulletin article indicated that CUSD officials will meet next week to "discuss what future role Lee will have in the district" and that Lee had voluntarily agreed to not send text messages to students here.