Deer Valley admins punished amid football controversy

Deer Valley admins punished amid football controversy

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Deer Valley admins punished amid football controversy

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Two Deer Valley High School administrators involved in a recent football controversy will be punished.

The Deer Valley Unified school board called a special meeting on Thursday, Oct. 17, and voted to deny appeals from Deer Valley High School Principal Barbara Dobbs and John Allen, who is assistant principal and athletic director.

The meeting agenda did not indicate what specific disciplinary action the pair were appealing, and the appeals hearing took place in a closed-door session at the request of the administrators. The board convened in public only to vote.

Board member Michael Gregoire said Dobbs and Allen faced administrative leave of less than 10 days. Deer Valley spokeswoman Heidi Vega would not confirm the punishment, saying it was a personnel matter.

The Arizona Republic has filed a public records request for details on the disciplinary action.

The reprimands follow the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s decision to bar the school’s football team from playoffs after school officials allowed two ineligible football players to participate in the season opener.

The AIA Executive Board will meet Monday, Oct. 21, to reconsider the football program’s probation status.

“We will continue to work with the AIA to ensure the values of accountability are supported throughout the school and district community,” Vega said in a written statement.

Deer Valley board members Kelly Gorman, Ann Ordway and Christy Agosta voted to deny the administrators’ appeals. Gregoire and Ron Bayer abstained. Both said they did not have sufficient time to review the 100-plus page investigation, which they received one day before the meeting.

Gregoire criticized the district’s investigation into the AIA’s allegations.

“There are severe flaws in the investigation process that did not bring forth the full truth,” Gregoire said at the meeting. “I think for us to be fair on this, we need to have this returned for further investigation.”

The meeting agenda did not include public comments, but when the meeting adjourned, attendees voiced disapproval with shouts of “vote ‘em out” and “we’ll see you at the polls.”

This is not Allen’s first run-in with the AIA. Two years ago, a referee alleged Allen slapped him and made negative comments after a football game. The school was placed on the AIA’s watch list for one year.

On Friday, AIA Associate Executive Director Chuck Schmidt said he had not received word from district officials on the latest corrective steps taken Thursday.

He said he wouldn’t be able to comment until Monday’s AIA Executive Board meeting, at which time probation could be removed, making the football team eligible for the Division II playoffs, which start in three weeks.

Deer Valley first-year football coach Eric Bolus said he will wait and see what happens during the AIA’s Executive Board meeting.

“We’re just hoping for the best on Monday,” Bolus said. “The kids are hopeful and excited about going to the playoffs.”

Bolus said he is proud of how the players have held up during the ordeal. The AIA placed all of Deer Valley High’s sports on probation after school officials allowed junior transfers Marquette Mitchell and Brian Calhoun to play in the season opener, after the AIA Executive Board had denied the players’ hardship. Three days later, the players’ won their appeals with the AIA, becoming eligible the rest of the season.

On Oct. 8, after district officials showed the AIA that it was taking corrective steps, all sports but the football team had the probationary status lifted and were put on advisement (a warning).

“The kids stuck with the theme, ‘No one has the power to tear us apart,’ ” said Bolus, who has been a longtime track coach at the school. “This has been the motto since it came down. It’s amazing how focused and committed they’ve been. They were absolutely crushed but their work ethic and unity have been the most amazing thing I’ve seen in 20 years of coaching.”

Mike Palomino, whose son Devon is the starting quarterback, said he felt the AIA pressured the district to go to lengths of removing the principal and athletic director.

“I felt like they wanted us to put their heads on a platter and hand it to them in time,” Palomino said. “It’s just flat wrong.”

With each passing week this football season, he said the uncertainty of the playoffs weighed on his son.

“I know it’s weighing on Devon,” Mike said. “He’d say, ‘Are we going to be eligible for the playoffs?’ I’d tell him, ‘It’s going to work itself out.’ ”

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Deer Valley admins punished amid football controversy
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