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Girls’ volleyball coach removed from position

He allegedly had inappropriate relationships with students

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A junior varsity girls’ volleyball coach was removed from his position following the discovery of allegedly inappropriate relationships between him and former Oak Park High School students.

This information became public in an email from Superintendent Anthony Knight to the staff and parents of OPHS Feb. 22.

The coach faced no charges from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department since the students he was allegedly involved with were not minors at the time of the alleged relationships.

According to Principal Kevin Buchanan, it was brought to the school’s attention that there may have been an inappropriate relationship between one of the school’s volleyball coaches and former students. The information had been relayed by a coach, who had been told by a parent after having heard from a student.

The discovery led the school to conduct an investigation into the matter.

“The investigation consisted of interviews, gathering evidence and statements, and corroborating such information. We interviewed all of the people whose names emerged from that situation, including our students who were in the volleyball program,” Buchanan said. “[We talked to] coaches and anybody else who we felt might have had some insight to help us determine whether or not the initial report we received was true.”

Knight and Director of Student Support and School Safety Stewart McGugan sent out a follow-up email March 6. This email stated that the coach had been removed from his position at OPHS because Oak Park “ABSOLUTELY cannot have this in our school system.”

“The Education Code and our Board Policy prohibits this sort of relationship between any staff member and any student regardless of the student’s age, including those 18 or older,” Knight and McGugan’s email read. “Staff members found to have engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a student will be fired, while certificated employees could lose their credential.”

The email went on to state that coaches sign a code of conduct every year at OPHS, and are also required to complete a California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) approved course on “this topic and others related to their responsibilities to student safety and well being.”

“All staff members, including coaches, must complete special training in sexual harassment, inappropriate relations with students and mandated reporting. We are carefully examining our oversight procedures related to athletics and all extra-curricular activities and will be improving supervision,” McGugan and Knight further wrote in the email.

The email adds that if anyone believes they or someone they know are at risk, they should contact the principal or a school counselor. The OPHS website, as well as the other school websites, have “REPORT IT” buttons that allow for anonymous reports of bullying, abuse or any other inappropriate behavior to be sent in and investigated by a counselor.

“We must keep Oak Park USD a safe place for our children,” the email read. “As we move forward, we hope that the parent and student community joins the District in committing to be ever-vigilant at all of our school activities to ensure the safety of our students and commit to informing the appropriate authorities of known or suspected concerns.”

Buchanan explained that he believes it is important that the community remains vigilant and “people do speak up.” He hopes that students can either find a trusted adult that they can go to, use the “REPORT IT” or tell their parents if they feel that “people may not be behaving in the way they should be.”

“We take every ‘REPORT IT’ incident seriously and look into everything,” Buchanan said. “This one ended up being a pretty large, formal investigation that was also reported to law enforcement.”

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