Basketball coach fired over ‘inappropriate’ social media

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 23, 2016

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St. Clair Shores Police are investigating an allegation of potential inappropriate contact between a Lake Shore High School employee and a student at the school.

“This afternoon, the St. Clair Shores Police Department was informed of potential inappropriate contact between a school employee and a student,” Police Chief Todd Woodcox stated in a press release issued Nov. 22. “We take any such allegations very seriously. We have initiated a thorough investigation and cannot release any further information until the investigation is complete.”

Lake Shore Public Schools Superintendent Joe DiPonio said that the district was notified of inappropriate social media between its female junior varsity girls basketball coach, an at-will employee, and a male student at the high school by someone from another school around noon Nov. 22.

The coach, a recent graduate of Lake Shore High School herself, was terminated just an hour later.

“We saw the messages and that was that. We afforded an opportunity for this person to provide some explanation, but aside from that, the messages in and of themselves would not be anything we would be comfortable having a staff member communicate to a student,” DiPonio said Nov. 23.

DiPonio said the coach, who is not being named by the district, has worked for Lake Shore for a year. The coach also served as a substitute teacher in the school but did not serve in a permanent position.

The district has contacted the student’s family “to find out exactly their perspective on what’s taken place.”

He said the investigation has now been turned over to St. Clair Shores Police and nothing would be coming before the Board of Education. The student, he said, has done nothing wrong.

“From an employee standpoint, there’s what we do and we leave it to the authorities to decide if there’s any law that’s been broken,” DiPonio said. “What we know is that we saw an exchange of communication through social media that was something that was not consistent with our vision and values and when something like that happens, it’s pretty much a no-brainer.”