Coachella Valley High School football coach Scott Fisher insists he was forced to resign as a retaliation against his wife, a former school district cabinet member who plans to file a lawsuit against the east valley school district.
Fisher submitted a letter of resignation Thursday after a 12-year coaching tenure — nine years as an assistant, three as a head coach. The Arabs were 7-23 in three seasons under Fisher’s leadership, but they had improved each year. They were 4-6 in 2013.
Fisher, however, believes his win-loss record was of little consequence.
“I absolutely believe it was based on a political decision,” Fisher said Friday. “I didn’t go 0-10. I didn’t (strike) a kid. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Coach Fisher’s wife is Laura Fisher, former executive director of student services for Coachella Valley Unified School District, who also claims she was forced to resign. Laura Fisher has filed an administrative complaint with the school district, and is prepared to file wrongful termination suit if necessary, her husband said. As a result, Coach Fisher said he felt “a target on (his) back” all of last football season.
However, according to school district officials, Fisher’s ousting was entirely about football.
Darryl Adams, superintendent of Coachella Valley Unified, disputed Fisher’s claims of political retribution, arguing that the performance of all coaches are evaluated at the end of every season. Adams insisted that Fisher wasn’t “forced” to do anything.
“I don’t understand his accusation that he was forced to resign,” Adams said. “No one can take your hand and make you resign. If you resign, you resign — that’s your decision.”
Jerry Tripp, athletic director for Coachella Valley High School, confirmed Friday that he would have fired Fisher if the coach did not resign on his own, but said the decision had nothing to do with Laura Fisher or her dispute with the school district.
“He and I didn’t agree on a few things,” Tripp said. “There were things I wanted done this season and next season and he just didn’t agree.”
The Arabs started the 2013 season by winning three of their first four games, but lost five of their final six. As the season dragged on, it exposed flaws in Fisher’s coaching, Tripp said.
For example, during a loss against Palm Desert on Nov. 1, the Arabs rushed for 380 yards using a Wing-T offense. However, a week later, during a win against Indio, the team reverted back to a spread offense, mixed with only a little Wing-T. The Arabs did have 443 yards rushing against Indio.
Tripp said that Fisher was a friend and his removal was a difficult decision.
He said a comprehensive search for a successor is under way.
Fisher, who remains a drivers education teacher at Coachella Valley High School, said he still wants to coach, and will look for a job outside the valley if necessary.
After 24 years in Coachella Valley Unified, Laura Fisher left the school district in September, insisting she had been pushed out.
Fisher’s job came under fire in July, when she was away on vacation, and the school district placed her on an indefinite administrative leave due to an “impending investigation.” Fisher said she was never given an explanation for the investigation, but was told weeks later she could resign or be fired. Fisher resigned, quickly taking a new job as a principal of alternative education with the Riverside County Office of Education.
When reached by phone Friday, Fisher declined to speak further about her dispute with the school district, stating that her attorney had advised her not to comment. Her attorney, Brad White, could not be reached at his office.
The first link between Laura Fisher and her husband’s coaching job arose in October during a tumultuous school board meeting at Bobby Duke Middle School. Several members of the Coachella Valley High School community confronted the east valley school board, angered by rumors that the football coach was on the verge of losing his job. The community members, who refused to be interviewed, said they had heard rumors that Board President Lowell Kamper had demanded the coach be fired.
“That’s 100 percent fabrication,” Kamper said at the board meeting. “This is not a misunderstanding. This is an absolute creation.”
During the meeting, Adams also insisted that the looming termination of Coach Fisher was only a rumor.
“Rumors seemed to be the way of life now in our community and district,” Adams said back in October. “I don’t know how it started, or where it started from, but it didn’t come from my administration or any of our board members.”
Kamper said Friday that he was informed that Fisher was leaving his coaching position during a school board meeting Thursday night. The discussion that pushed Fisher to resign was “between him and the athletic director,” with no involvement of the school board, Kamper said.