A closed-door meeting held Monday at McKinley High for parents, students and alumni in the wake of last week’s unprecedented LHSAA sanctions gave administrators a chance to explain future plans and an appeal of the sanctions.
Some of those on hand expressed optimism, but others said little new information was given. The hour-long meeting held in the school’s auditorium was closed to the media.
The school’s new principal, Esrom Pitre, spoke to the group. Interim head coach/athletic director Robert Signater was introduced along with associate head coach Sean Beauchamp, whose move from Broadmoor to McKinley was finalized Monday.
"We wanted to calm the parents and the kids down and let them know that there are some things we’ll be appealing and that we’ll be working with the LHSAA and the (East Baton Rouge Parish School System) central office moving forward in a positive direction,” Pitre said, noting that excellence in all endeavors is the school's goal moving forward.
Pitre said McKinley has already appealed the two-year playoff ban for all sports that was a part of last week’s ruling that also included nearly $42,000 in fines and a one-year suspension for all coaches on the 2017-18 McKinley staff. Many violations involved the required paperwork/forms that schools keep on file and the registration of athletes and teams in the LHSAA data base.
The school also hopes for a reduction in the fines. A source with knowledge of the situation said the McKinley Alumni Association plans to provide financial assistance with the fines.
Jordan Joseph, a football/track athlete, said he was encouraged by what he heard.
“They gave me hope,” Joseph said. “Maybe we can go to the playoffs.”
Others were not as positive afterward.
“They didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. They talked about infractions we already knew, but they hid behind legalities,” parent Felicia Forman said. “Some of our children are seniors. They came here together, and they want to finish together. They should not be penalized because of paperwork. They have no control over that. Now we’re a month before the volleyball season and they don’t have a coach and don’t know when they will practice.”
Former school board member Darryl Robertson also expressed frustrated.
“A lot of this I can’t speak on because I have not seen the allegations. But I do know the fine of $42,000 seems excessive," he said. "What I’m hoping for is that the girls who were suspended for the volleyball issue will be reinstated. Some of those girls are seniors. I would like to see McKinley be allowed to compete in the postseason.
“I am very disappointed to see coaches being removed, in particular coach (Krystal) Huggins (Flowers) because I’ve worked closely with the girls basketball team, and I know the relationship she had with those girls. She made those girls and that team better.”
Beauchamp, who spent the past two years at Broadmoor after a four-year stint at Scotlandville, said the lure of rebuilding a program attracted him to join Signater at McKinley. The 49-year-old Beauchamp also will serve as dean of students.
“To have the opportunity to rebuild the program … that is the biggest attraction,” Beauchamp said. “It is a great opportunity.”