Charles, who was also the Reed High baseball coach at the time, was immediately suspended from that position as well, per WCSD rules that kept him away from district property pending an investigation. In mid-June, Charles was notified by Reed Principal Mary Vesco that the school would not be retaining his services as baseball coach. This, despite the fact the school district’s investigation into his job at Mendive had not been concluded.
Charles held steadfast all along that he was not being investigated for anything other than paperwork issues. He admitted he had not followed some policies regarding paperwork, but said he never endangered the welfare of a child.
That would indeed appear to be the case as Charles was vindicated by the district’s decision to reinstate him as a teacher. Given that, Charles is less than thrilled to say the least that he’s not still the baseball coach at Reed.
“I always thought you’re innocent until proven guilty,” Charles said. “That’s a core belief of our system. I haven’t been able to comment on anything. I was told to wait until the outcome. Well here’s the outcome.”
I think he’s got good reason to be fried. With the exception of a two-year absence in 1997 and 1998, Charles has coached at Reed since 1994. He was the JV softball coach from 1994-’96. He left to take the varsity softball job at Reno for two years before returning to Reed and heading up the RHS varsity softball program from 1999 through 2010. He was the winningest coach in the state during that time period. He then coached the Reed baseball program the past two years.
Charles also coached lower-level girls basketball for portions of his tenure at Reed.
On June 15, Charles received a four-sentence letter from Vesco informing him of her decision to terminate and that the school’s baseball program would be going in a different direction. After 17 years of loyal service to a school, in which he ran highly competitive programs, Charles deserved more than a four-sentence letter. He deserved the decency of a face-to-face meeting and some reasoning for her decision.
To use a sports cliche, that’s Bush League.
Additionally, Reed administrators pulled in the Raiders’ varsity baseball team and informed players of Charles’ original suspension in early May. That meant that Charles’ son Web, who played in the Raiders JV program, had to hear of his father’s suspension from other teenagers and not his father or a Reed administrator.
The hits just kept on coming. Vesco sent the termination letter so Charles would receive it, two days before Father’s Day. What happened to professional courtesy? Charles deserved some.
“I checked the mail, opened it up, read the letter and felt very betrayed,” Charles said. “For the first time in this whole situation, I felt like I was the target of a witch hunt. I felt like my baseball job was there as long as my (teaching) contract job was there.
“I just think that after all the years I’ve put in there, I felt like the administration should have called me in and talked to me about it.”
In Vesco’s termination letter, she said the school would be going a different direction with its baseball program. Charles was brought into coach Reed baseball after a hazing incident under the former regime. He was given a mandate to provide more discipline and build a more competitive and professional environment for the student athletes.
He’s done that. And oh yeah, he’s also won too. Reed was back in the postseason this past spring after failing to qualify for the regional tournament each of the prior four seasons.
“I believe in my heart, we were going in the right direction,” Charles said. “I talked to one of the guys on my coaching staff and we could name 15 things we’ve done better.
“I just don’t get it, but at the same time, I can’t dwell on it. I have to move on. People had their opinions about me, but I knew I didn’t hurt kids. I had clerical issues I needed to clean up. I have to clean up some of those things, but I don’t see why I lost the baseball job. I really don’t.”
I’ve known Ray since he began coaching softball at Reed in 1999. I’ve seen him win and do it the right way. He had the Reed baseball program going in the right direction and for Vesco to jump the gun on his firing and do so in the unprofessional manner she did, was flat wrong.
Dan Eckles is the Sparks Tribune’s sports editor. He can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org