Losing Authority

Just as some teachers feel their authority is usurped by unsupportive leaders and parents, coaches often feel the same way. I have frequently heard from coaches that parents wield their power like a sword, a weapon to brandish when they disagree with a coach; this happens more frequently, so I’m told, when politically powerful or wealthy parents have a complaint. Some of these coaches have also said their authority is undermined by their administrators and school boards.

As a coach I never had my authority taken away, so I consider myself lucky. My autonomy was always maintained.

However, in Aberdeen a cheerleading coach resigned her position because she felt her authority was undermined by a hearing officer. A student broke a team rule, which was in the contract signed by all of the students and known by all of the parents. The girl appealed for reinstatement because her infraction occurred at the end of the previous school year, even though the penalty apparently was supposed to carry over into the new year according to the signed contract.

Some may think that an infraction from a previous year (let’s say in June, for argument’s sake) should not affect a student in the current school year. However, one unique part of a cheer squad is that try-outs often occur in April or May, so the cheerleaders may prepare for summer camps. Plus, their seasons begin before school starts since football games begin immediately, sometimes before classes even begin. Thus, a penalty carrying over is not surprising. I remember people were often shocked to hear that my wife’s cheer squad practiced 11 months out of the year, partially because of stunting but also because they had to prepare for three sports seasons.

Regardless, I find it sad that a student breaks a rule after signing a contract and the parents help the student appeal the consequence. Often I hear we live in a society where consequences are rarely accepted, and this case seems to prove the rule.

As a classroom teacher I see the same thing occur as well. A student breaks a rule or violates a policy, and the parents often do not want their child to suffer the consequence. Without accountability, rules and policies are meaningless.

Still, I feel bad for the other girls on the cheer squad in Aberdeen. They now have no coach. The girl who appealed her case quit the team once all was said and done. And July is a tough time to try and hire a qualified coach.

I also applaud the coach for sticking to her guns. While I never really like to see someone quit before a commitment is completed, I don’t know that I could work in a position where my authority could be undermined so easily. Maybe the contract itself needs some revisions, but the kids and parents agreed to it, and the school administrators approved it. Too bad a coach had to resign before people could see what a loss of authority can do to an individual and a team.

2 thoughts on “Losing Authority

  1. Mystery Teacher

    I like my principal but I have had to get used to being over-ruled on student/parent issues. Her motto is “Just Be Nice” and she is. However, I do most of my own discipline in my classroom and when it comes to sending someone to the office, you can bet it has gone on too long. Since it is the first time she has seen them, she just talks to them. TALKS?? I am at my ends wits! And she just talks?
    Last year we had a vice principal and she was fantastic. She actually did something. She knew which teacher sent the kids for every reason and which sent them as last resort. However, she is assigned to a new school. 😦
    This year, I am keeping a journal on each student. The journal will go with them to the office. Documentation.
    I just wish administrators AND Parents would support us for a change.

  2. drpezz Post author

    I am fortunate in this regard as well, not because our administration is the greatest (though they do try hard) but because they know that if I send a student down something is drastically wrong.

    You and I may be kindred spirits. 🙂


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