UPDATE 5:10 P.M. – Charlotte High School varsity boys basketball captain Collin Garn confirmed to the State Journal the Orioles will compete as scheduled against Pennfield High School tonight. This is despite speculation the team would protest the resignation of former coach Steve Ernst.
The game is schedule for 7:30 p.m.
ORIGINAL STORY – CHARLOTTE – Members of Charlotte High School’s varsity boys basketball team have not decided if they’ll play tonight, following the news that Steve Ernst will not return as their coach.
The Charlotte school board’s decision not to rehire Ernst came after a more than three-hour closed session during a meeting Thursday night.
Team Captain Collin Garn, 18, said players feel “abandoned” by school officials. He said they’ll decide this afternoon whether they’ll play tonight’s game against Pennfield High School.
“I just feel like because the administration couldn’t handle their business we’re the only ones being punished,” Garn said Friday morning.
Meanwhile Alex Coy, a Charlotte graduate who established a Facebook page in support of Ernst earlier this week that now has more than 1,000 members, said he and another resident are seriously considering the circulation of petitions to recall every board member except Eric Emery.
“Eric is the only one last night who took a stand and voted against the board statement and he’s the only one who seems to care about listening to the community,” Coy said.
That board statement read by new Charlotte school board President Mike Bruce Thursday night stated, in part, “The decision to leave his coaching position in Charlotte was Coach Ernst’s decision, and his decision alone.”
Addressing students and parents after the meeting Bruce said, “It’s the decision of the board that he will not be the coach.”
Board member Eric Emery, who voiced his support for Ernst on Wednesday, cast the lone no vote against the board’s statement, which passed 5-1. He could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Ernst, who graduated from Charlotte in 1986 and was hired as Charlotte High School’s head varsity basketball coach in October of 2014, quit Monday. His resignation came after he was placed on his second individual development plan aimed at addressing the number of technical fouls he’s received during games. That number stands at six over the last 30 games, according to Ernst.
Since then community members have rallied in support of Ernst, demanding he be rehired. Hundreds attended a school board meeting Monday night.
The board met Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. and immediately moved into closed session.The agenda for the meeting, which was posted but not provided to the audience of more than 150 area residents, listed a closed session for a personnel issue and attorney client privilege, but gave no specifics.
The board’s motion to enter closed session was no more specific.
Bruce told the State Journal earlier Thursday that the board was going to discuss the future of former boys basketball coach Steve Ernst, and an unnamed current employee of the district.
“We can discuss him in closed session because he’s not an employee of the district,” Bruce said.
According to the board statement read by Bruce, Ernst cited “health reasons” in his resignation letter to the district.
Ernst could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
“There will be no more resignations and nobody else will leave or be fired related to this matter,” the board statement reads. “We hope this is the end to this dramatic episode.
“This is a very sad moment in the history of our school district in many ways. “We lost a basketball coach. Administrators have been threatened. And the new President of the Board of Education has resigned.”
Former President Shane Gonser, named president by fellow board members earlier this week, told the State Journal Thursday morning that he resigned his position on the board Wednesday after threats were made against board members.
“Due to the comments made by some community members I feared for the welfare and safety of my children,” Gonser told the State Journal Thursday. “I’m taking my family and I’m taking myself out of this.”
He did not cite specific threats.
Charlotte Police Chief Lisa Sherman said Thursday afternoon that her department hasn’t received any complaints regarding threats made to Gonser.
But during Thursday’s meeting Bruce said police are investigating threats made against board members.
Sherman, who attended the meeting, said at its conclusion that Bruce “misspoke” but refused to take any further questions from the State Journal. She could not immediately be reached for follow up questions Friday.
Ernst said Thursday morning that he played high school basketball with Gonser in 1986. At the time, his father Jerry Ernst coached the team. His father resigned in 1992.
“I love him (Gonser) like a brother,” Ernst said. “Let’s just say that.”
Superintendent Mark Rosekrans and Athletic Director Dan Stafford have not returned phone calls in recent days from the State Journal. Rosekrans said Monday that he cannot publicly discuss personnel issues. He did not attend Thursday’s board meeting.
Garn said school officials told him Thursday night that Stafford would serve as acting coach for Friday’s game.
Bruce, who could not be reached Friday, said Thursday afternoon that Charlotte High School varsity girls basketball coach Bill Newhouse, who has volunteered to coach the boys basketball game today at home against Pennfield, may do so. He said no long-term decisions about a coach have been made yet.
Ryan Garn, Collin’s father, believes the basketball team should play tonight’s game.
“I think the community needs to start healing right away,” he said. “This is like a death. I think the kids need to get back to normal.”
Contact Rachel Greco at (517) 528-2075 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @GrecoatLSJ.