Volunteer fired, head coach resigns amid disparaging comments | Education | Lee's Summit Journal

Volunteer fired, head coach resigns amid disparaging comments | Education | Lee's Summit Journal

Pam Smiley, a volunteer track and field coach at Lee’s
Summit High School, fought back tears as she tried to relay why she
thought she was let go off her duties.

Earlier Wednesday, Smiley
was told by administrators at the school that a decision by track and
field head coach Karen Sanders to relieve Smiley off her duties as
sprint coach would stand.

Smiley alleges – and a group of track
athletes at the school concur – that Sanders told her last week the only
reason some minority members of the team were having successful track
seasons was because Smiley was African-American and the athletes could
relate to her.

Smiley said she was appalled by the assertion, as were parents of some of the athletes who heard Sanders repeat the remark.

Sanders, who was unavailable for comment, resigned from her position Wednesday.

Wilkinson, a teacher at Pleasant Lea Middle School and current
assistant coach for the team, is taking over as acting head coach.

Smiley said she was disappointed in being let go.

feel like it’s an unfair decision,” she said to a group of reporters
after a meeting with Chad Hertzog, the school’s athletic director, John
Faulkenberry, principal, and a district human resources official.

“I don’t feel like they took the athletes and the students into consideration. I feel like they made a bad judgment.”

a physical therapist and personal trainer in Kansas City, contends that
Sanders made the disparaging remarks to her during a meeting Friday
afternoon, then later repeated the remarks to athletes before a track
meet the same day. On Saturday, the team traveled to Jefferson City for a
meet while Sanders stayed away.


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