2014-02-08 / Front Page

Football coach appointment is controversial

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – Lakewood Superintendent Jay Gault expects to make his recommendation to school board members at their Feb. 12 meeting out of three candidates to become Lakewood’s next varsity football coach. He stressed Monday that he and the nominating committee are following procedure, amid controversy surrounding one of the candidates.

“Nobody’s been hired,” he said.

One of the candidates is former Fairfield Christian Academy Coach David Daubenmire, who is also a minister, motivational coach, and founder of Pass the Salt, a conservative online talk radio program.

Change.org, a free online petition tool, is hosting a petition encouraging the Lakewood School Board not to hire Daubenmire. The petition alleges that Daubenmire, in video blog posts on Pass the Salt, encourages bullying, particularly when it is directed at homosexuals. According to the petition, Daubenmire, in his own words, said, “The whole bullying idea is built around the homosexual agenda, to try to get people not to criticize or make fun of or poke fun at homosexuals.”

The online petition contains a letter to Lakewood schools stating, “Dave Daubenmire’s beliefs prevent him from being an effective coach to ALL students, and his history proves that only his personal agenda matters. He encourages bullying and flaunts laws in the name of religion. Hiring Daubenmire to work with kids sends a strong message that only radical, conservative, Christian, heterosexual males matter to you. Safe schools are far more important than winning football games. Choose another coach.”

In an email to The Beacon, Daubenmire states, “It would be a great honor to serve as football coach at my alma mater.

“For the past 12 years I have been the leader of a very public ministry. In that role I have been a vocal defender of Christian values, which has caused some to take offense at my positions. But those positions were expressed as a minister not as a public school football coach. I do not apologize for defending a Biblical point of view.

“The accusations that I some how support bullying are nothing but lies promoted by those with an agenda. Character assassination is their modus operandi.

“No one understands better than me what can and cannot be done in my position as football coach at a public high school. I will not cross that line. I respect individual liberty including the right of students to be free from coercion in their personal lives.

“At the same time I do not believe that my own personal beliefs should disqualify me from this position simply because some do not agree with me. Do I not have freedom of thought and of speech?

“Those who personally know me as well as those families I have had the opportunity to work with over my 30-plus year career can give the best evaluation of the impact our programs have had on their lives and communities. It is sad that the mud is being thrown by those who do not even know me or live in our district.

“Our students/athletes deserve the best. If the school board is kind enough to hire me I will lead the program in such a way that the entire Lancer community will be proud,” Daubenmire wrote.

The petition contains more than 3,700 signatures. However, Daubenmire’s brother, William, claims that of those signatures, only 80 can be verified as coming from within the Lakewood School District. “The rest of them are coming from literally around the country and world, thanks to the broad range of the internet,” he said in a letter to The Beacon.

William Daubenmire said his brother never states that he believes in bullying in his video blog, and William Daubenmire accuses the petitioners of bullying board members into not hiring his brother for the coaching position.

Dave Daubenmire formerly coached at London High School where the American Civil Liberties Union sued him in the late 1990s for allegedly mixing prayer with his coaching. After a two-year battle, the ACLU offered Daubenmire an out-of-court settlement.

Two weeks following being honored as the top Division VI Central District football coach, Daubenmire was told he would not return as Fairfield Christian Academy’s coach for 2013, citing disagreements with Fairfield Christian’s administration.

Gault said Monday that the hiring process is still moving forward and the decision is made when the board votes, which is the same process for hiring teachers. He understands that some people believe the process is concluded and Daubenmire was hired, but that’s simply not the case. The administration is currently following standard procedures to consider candidates for a position. “That process is not done yet,” he said, adding that the process is effective. “It’s hired great people here,” Gault said.

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