As the coach’s supporters have rallied to reinstate him, the district has placed Goncharoff on paid administrative leave.

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School district administrators have backtracked on their plan to terminate Bellevue High football coach Butch Goncharoff.

In a letter to Goncharoff in May, the district had said it would seek to fire the coach for accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from outside entities and then failing to be forthcoming about the payments when his supervisors asked about them. But now the district has placed Goncharoff on paid administrative leave that is “non-disciplinary,” Goncharoff attorney Bob Sulkin said.

Sulkin said the district appears to be claiming that the action is “non-disciplinary” to argue that Goncharoff has no right to challenge the decision.

Bellevue football investigation:

· Complete Bellevue scandal coverage »

Previously:

· Bellevue football banned from postseason for 4 years

· WIAA lifts Bellevue postseason ban, strips two state titles

· Cedar Park Christian hires ex-Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff

· Two-year ban for Goncharoff ruled violation of union rights

· After upheaval, sanctions, Bellevue ready to get back to playing football again

Read full KingCo sanctions on Bellevue

· Report: Bellevue coaches violated rules for years, district obstructed probe

Read full WIAA investigative report

 

“Again, it looks as if the district does not want its decision to be subject to scrutiny and a fair process,” Sulkin said.

Elizabeth Sytman, a spokeswoman for the Bellevue School District, said the district feels confident it made the right decision.

Goncharoff’s supporters have rallied to challenge the district’s handling of his situation, and they are seeking his immediate reinstatement to the program, which has won 11 state titles since 2001.

In presenting its proposed self-sanctions to the KingCo Conference, the school had said it was taking internal employment actions to resolve some violations of WIAA rules. The school had said the internal remedies would provide the conference “with assurances that no further violations will occur.”

When the KingCo Conference made its decision on sanctions, the conference said it expected the district not to renew contracts for coaches involved in violations of coaching-pay rules. The conference did not suspend any coaches. The school district also is in the process of appealing the conference’s sanctions, which included a four-year postseason ban.

Along with seeking to terminate Goncharoff, the district had moved to end its relationship with assistant head coach Pat Jones. But Jones has filed grievances in response to the district’s decisions and has filed an unfair-labor-practices complaint to the Public Employment Relations Commission.

In a letter sent to Jones a few weeks ago, the district also backtracked on its plans. It now says Jones will also be kept on paid administrative leave.

The district still is requiring Jones to turn in his district ID, keys and other property. The district also is not assigning him any coaching duties and is seeking to prohibit him from contacting football players, students or parents of players. And the district said after the 2016 football season, Jones “will not be employed by coaching contract with the District in the future,” according to one letter.

“We have determined that it is in the best interest of the District that the program begin a new era with a new assistant coach,” wrote Jeffrey Thomas, the Bellevue School District’s executive director of human resources, in a June 16 letter provided by Jones.

Jones has argued in response that the district’s decisions have been arbitrary, are actually disciplinary in nature and seem to be an attempt to circumvent the collective-bargaining agreement for Bellevue coaches.

“I was hired, and the rights I have once I am hired cannot simply be ignored and tossed aside,” Jones wrote in a response letter last week.

Meanwhile, the first week of spring football for the Bellevue program is scheduled to begin this week. The team is currently led by interim head coach Richard Brown, a longtime assistant with the program.