The Platteville High School coach who was removed from his position earlier this year spoke to the Platteville School Board about his termination Monday night.
Former girls basketball and softball coach Jim Lawinger also spoke to the School Board in closed session.
Lawinger’s meeting delayed, at least temporarily, the planned naming of Brandon Temperly as girls basketball coach. Temperly was the junior varsity boys basketball coach last season, and formerly was the girls basketball coach at Waupaca High School for five seasons.
Temperly’s hiring was tabled by the School Board 7–1, with school board member Eric Fatzinger opposed and board member Josh Grabandt absent.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Lawinger went over his two seasons as softball coach, including this past season, which included three player suspensions, and his one season as girls basketball coach, which included “a couple of technical fouls, which can happen to any coach, and these were blown out of context. You have not attended many basketball games if you think every technical is justified.”
Lawinger accused softball assistant coach Ashley Cullen of “retaliating” against Lawinger this past season, telling players “not to listen to Coach (me),” and “undermining me to parents, other coaches and umpires.”
Lawinger did not name Cullen in his comments. The other PHS softball assistant coach, Tud Bowden, was at Monday’s meeting and spoke at the Aug. 10 meeting in support of Lawinger.
“I also know that my assistant told a group of girls to complain to the administration about interactions with me and another player; this other player did not even know they were going in,” said Lawinger, who added “her parents have told us this, as well as another player on the team.”
Lawinger said his coaching philosophy was based on “family,” “trust” and “belief,” and called toughness “the skin that holds all three attributes or values in check.”
“Some people may be born with the aptitude to become tougher than others but I truly believe that true toughness is a skill that can be developed and improved in everyone,” said Lawinger. “I have earned the respect of my players over the years by telling them the absolute truth, both positive and negative truth, and they know I was being honest with them. By being honest they would know what they needed to do. They listened and they acted upon what was heard.”
Lawinger said he wanted to meet with the school board “to have my name cleared and hope that this administration can admit to a mistake. I was fired without a jury. …
“The community, the administration, and coaches need to be all on the same page with the same goals, which is for the kids. Who will [step] up to the plate and help Platteville administration shed its terrible sports reputation and have the community and not just the parents take pride in its sports teams?”
Lawinger said one of his softball players was upset because he made her wear a facemask to play infield.
After Lawinger’s comments, school board president Brian Miesen read a statement that “The board recognizes the frustration that the public has related to their interest in confidential employee matters,” but added that “board members are restricted from responding in a way that would involve sharing any information that is considered a confidential personnel record.”
The statement Miesen read added that “any employment information that has been released publicly was not released by the Platteville School District Administration or board members,” and that “Information that has been discussed publicly, either at board meetings during the public comment section, in letters to parents or team members, or in ‘Letters to the Newspaper’ was shared by Mr. Lawinger or by supporters of Mr. Lawinger and represent their characterization of events and not that of the board or administration.”
Lawinger then met with the School Board in closed session.