Coaching change miffs parents Also, sinkhole should be fixed by Monday

By on July 18, 2012

By: MICHAEL C. UPTON Record Express Correspondent, Staff Writer

A group of more than 20 parents addressed the Warwick School Board Tuesday, calling for the reinstatement of lacrosse coach Chris Schmehl and assistant coach Gary Minnich. Led by Mark Sell, president of the Warwick Boys’ Lacrosse Parents Association, the group assembled to show support for the coaches whose contracts were not extended into the 2012-13 season.

"The purpose for our presentation … (is to) indicate our displeasure with the unjust and poorly documented decision by the athletic director (John Kosydar) of the Warwick School District," said Sell. "Those that know me know that I wouldn’t be bringing this issue to your attention if I didn’t feel strongly that it is something that needs to be addressed."

Sell stated that despite a "down season" in 2010-11, improvements in play and behavior appeared in 2011-12. Positive results for the lacrosse team included a winning record, a playoff berth, and a top five ranking in sportsmanship with league officials. Six players from Warwick were selected to the Lancaster-Lebanon League all-star team, with one player named as an All-American by the Central PA Coaches Board, said Sell.

Sell understood how the coaches might have been left go after the 2010-11 season, but wanted to know why and how the decision was made to move the lacrosse team away from the coaching of Schmehl and Minnich now.

"The decision made by the athletic director and high school administration is not based on any documented procedural expectation of the coaches. Nor were there any verbal expectations communicated," said Sell. "I think there are those who are using (a) situation as an opportunity to make a change… I would like to ask, on behalf of the parents association, that you respectfully take the following actions (and) reverse the decision not to renew the contracts of the head coach and the assistant head coach and reinstate them for the year 2012-13."

Exactly a year ago, a group of concerned parents held different opinions of Schmehl. During the July 19, 2011 meeting, resident Chuck Biemesderfer expressed concerns he said were shared by many parents of lacrosse players. At that time, Biemesderfer said e-mail correspondence between lacrosse parents showed almost half supported the removal of Schmehl.

"I’m here to express a disappointment in the process that led to the approval of the head coach for reinstatement," Biemesderfer said in 2011.

Much of the controversy over Schmehl revolves around an undisclosed student violation. Citing PA law concerning discussion of personnel matters, school board president Dr. Timothy Quinn said the board could not comment on the issue. After the meeting Tuesday, Sell confirmed a student violation occurred by a member of the lacrosse team. He declined to provide further information.

In other school district news, Superintendent Dr. April Hershey provided an update on the sinkhole that opened up beneath the new synthetic turf football field after heavy rains in early June, which nearly swallowed a classroom’s size of the multi-million dollar field. Construction crews, engineers and district maintenance staff have been hard at work efforting a quick correction to the situation.

"By the end of this week the blacktop will be repaired and (soon) the turf will be repaired," said Hershey. "We’re hoping by Monday that it is fixed. We’ll have more detailed information on the total cost and so forth; again, it’s between the insurance company and what we are being billed at this point. We are very excited that it may be completed in time for the soccer tournament (on July 29). That’s very good news." More SCHOOL BOARD, page A14