When Sue Thomas was fired by Bedford (N.H.) High School, the decision shocked those who had watched Thomas lead the program throughout its seven seasons of existence. Now, a week later, Thomas is speaking to the school board insisting that there’s a better way forward.
“We would not be here today if we had some conflict resolution steps put in place,” Thomas told the Bedford School Board. … “It is extremely rare — almost an unheard of step — for a coach’s contract to be severed mid-season.”
Thomas is currently appealing the administration’s decision to terminate her contract because of the “negative culture,” of the program, with a pretty reasonable defense: If the culture was so negative, why is the program in better hands under Thomas’ former assistant, who was the other adult present at all practices and games and who tacitly or actively took part in all the lessons and games that made the program so toxic?
Here was Thomas’ direct quote on that line of logic:
“If the conditions of practice and with the team were so bad as to publicly fire me, why was my assistant coach — the other adult in the gym 99 percent over the last two and a half years — given the position?” asked Thomas. “He was either complicit in the events, or nothing happened for him to complain about.”
There’s no timeline for when Thomas’ appeal may be heard, but it’s clear that she isn’t going to accept her dismissal lying down. If nothing else, she may be able to use her circumstances to force through mandatory conflict resolution and mediation for future faculty and students who find themselves in typical difficult circumstances.