SWANNANOA, N.C. – After he was fired last week for engaging in a physical altercation with an angry parent, former Owen wrestling coach Lucas Pokorny will fight for his reinstatement.
Pokorny has hired Asheville attorney Brian Elston, who filed an appeal on his behalf with Buncombe County Schools Monday.
According to Elston, an angry parent put Pokorny in “an impossible position” after he entered the gym during a wrestling practice last Wednesday, “pointing and yelling” at the coach about how he was treating his son.
In the appeal sent to the district, Pokorny said the parent “baited me, saying ‘you are a pansy and there is nothing you are going to do. You need to man up.”
Pokorny said the parent was close enough “to me for me to be afraid and believe he was going to contact. Pokorny said he pushed the parent away and that the parent came back at him.
According to the appeal, the parent was also mocking Pokorny’s speech impediment.
“I pinned him to the floor,” Pokorny said in the appeal. “The student-athletes then came in a separated (the parent and I).”
No charges are being filed, but Pokorny, who was hired in October, was removed from his position as wrestling coach and as a teacher assistant at Owen Middle School. The parent was banned from the high school campus, according to a statement from Buncombe County School spokesperson Stacia Harris.
“The most important consideration in these situations is maintaining the safety and well-being of our students and keeping our campuses safe,” Harris said in the statement. “We have an interim coach in place who will finish the season with the Owen High wrestling team.”
Other parents on the team have come to the defense of Pokorny, including Wally Vale, who said the parent involved in the incident is to blame.
“My son explained how scary the situation was and that the coach was left with no choice,” Vale said. “This parent has a history of doing things like this, and the coach was alone, without any other support, what was he supposed to do?”
A wrestler on the team said in the appeal that “he (the parent) was cussing up a storm, pointing fingers. Coach didn’t punch him, he took him to the ground so he couldn’t do anything else.”
In the appeal, Elston said Pokorny’s use of self-defense was not a violation of the district’s “zero-tolerance policy” and that the coach “adequately supervised the children and protected their safety.”
Elston said he has not heard from the district on when the appeal hearing will take place. According to the district’s statement, any hearing would be part of a closed session before a school board meeting which takes place every first Thursday of the month.
“He has a one-year-old child and a wife who is a pre-school teacher,” Elston said. “From what I’ve heard from parents, he’s done an amazing job with the program. He was goaded into a physical altercation and did the only thing he felt he could do to protect the kids on his team.”