Basketball coach rehiring tabled

The room was filled for last night’s Miles City Unified Board of Trustees meeting.

One of the main topics of discussion was the rehiring of the winter coaches. All were rehired but Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Aaron Essex.

The meeting was closed for approximately a half hour to discuss Essex’s position. 

An issue had been raised during the public comment portion on hirings. Concerned parent Linda Rask expressed her concern over the rehiring Essex. Her daughter played junior varsity this year. 

“My concern involves his choosing to enter an occupied locker room during a JV basketball game during the week of February 15. Before he entered the girls’ locker room, some of the girls told him that there were girls not fully dressed. According to the information I received from the girls on the team, he regularly asks before entering and did in Hardin before entering. According to the girls, he was told by some that it was okay to enter,” said Rask. “He chose to enter. “According to the girls, when he entered the locker room he became aware of two girls in the shower. At that point he chose to stay. He told the girls to duck down while he was there.” 

The incident allegedly took place at an away game in Hardin on February 19. Essex was having a team meeting with the varsity girls. Rask then contacted Athletic Director Mike Ryan and later met with Superintendent Keith Campbell.

“My concern is his lack of respect of the girls in the shower and his lack of judgement in both entering and staying after he was told there were girls not ready for a male coach to be in the locker room,” said Rask. “I am concerned that our girls’ dignity is less than a team meeting. I’m concerned that this is okay with the school district.”

Ryan has confirmed that these events happened, according to Rask.

Ryan indicated that he didn’t know how much he could say about the incident in an open meeting.

Rask said she only wanted the board to know so they could make an educated decision on his rehiring. 

The board closed the meeting due to Essex’s right to privacy to discuss the matter further.

The decision on whether to rehire Essex as a coach has been tabled until May’s meeting. According to Superintendent Keith Campbell, whatever the decision is will not affect his teaching, as coaching contracts are separate. 

The district has polices in place for possible misconduct. According to the policy addressing personal conduct (#5223), the employees are expected to maintain high standards of honesty, integrity and impartiality in the conduct of district business. And according to the policy addressing disciplinary action (#5255), discipline will be appropriate to the circumstance. Employees can be reprimanded and suspended with or without pay or the Superintendent could impose other disciplinary actions. 

This was Essex’s second season as the varsity head coach. As head coach, he is in charge of all the girls’ basketball teams. JV also practices with varsity. 

On Tuesday the board also hired a new principal for Garfield Elementary School. More information to come in a later issue. 

The next board meeting will be May 10 at 7 p.m.