PLATTEVILLE — Neither Platteville Public Schools administrators nor School Board members defined at Monday night’s School Board meeting what they consider to be the “Platteville philosophy.”
“The Platteville philosophy” was the phrase used by former girls basketball and softball coach Jim Lawinger to describe why he was told he was not continuing as coach in a meeting July 31.
The “Platteville philosophy” might be discerned in two school district policies — one titled “Interscholastic Athletics,” which the school district approved in 2001, and one called “Staff Ethics,” approved in 2012.
The policies “provide guidance as to how we expect adults to interact with our students,” said PPS superintendent Connie Valenza Tuesday morning. “We have the same expectation of all adults who work with our youth, regardless of whether it’s in the classroom or on the field.”
In addition to athletics being recognized as “a vital part of the total educational program,” and a ban against the school district’s discriminating in “opportunities for student participation,” the athletics policy states:
“Interscholastic athletics should be designed to give students an opportunity to develop their interests, attitudes and skills for future years without damaging their academic development. Sports competition should provide a healthful, enjoyable experience whereby the emotional, mental, social and physical development of young men and women can be fully achieved. Sportsmanship should always be of prime importance.”
The policy also says students should be able to participate “if they are willing to assume certain responsibilities. Athletes must display high standards of behavior, exemplify good sportsmanship, show respect for others, and meet rules and regulations of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association and the Board of Education.”
The Staff Ethics policy says that “The educator strives to help each student realize his/her potential as a worthy and effective member of society and is therefore committed to stimulating the spirit of inquiry and the acquisition of knowledge and understanding.”
The policy states that staff shall not “unreasonably deny the student access to varying points of view,” “deliberately suppress or distort information relevant to the student’s progress,” “intentionally expose the student to embarrassment or disparagement.” or “disclose information about students obtained in the course of professional service” without “a compelling professional purpose” and requirement of law. The policy also states that staff shall “make reasonable efforts to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning or to health and safety.”
Valenza said Tuesday morning that coaches are employed on a year-to-year basis via a letter of assignment.
“There is nothing to renew or non-renew,” she said. “There is not a contract that’s up for renewal.”
Speakers at Monday’s School Board meeting asked who made the decision to not retain Lawinger.
“I feel very strongly that I have a very competent administrative team, and when they make recommendations for me I believe these recommendations are valid and well researched and non-biased,” said Valenza. “I expect my administrators to follow up on concerns, whether they come from a parent or a student, and make a reasoned decision. That’s why we hire them.”
School Board president Brian Miesen said Monday the athletics policy was going to be reviewed later this year as part of ongoing school district policy review.
Editor's note: The print version of this story said Lawinger was told via email he was not continuing as coach. Lawinger was told in a meeting he was not continuing as coach. The Journal regrets the error, which is corrected here.